Feeling Blue a Lot? You May Have Depression
Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 18:12
With the recently fallen snow sticking around and temperatures dropping below zero, it is clear that winter is officially upon us. Not only does this cold and dreary season bring snow and freezing temperatures, but it also causes more people to experience depression.
Occasionally, everyone feels sad, but according to the Mayo Clinic website, depression is different from usual mood fluctuations. It is a common medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, which can cause irritability, loss of interest, fatigue, indecisiveness, tiredness, feelings of worthlessness and even unexplained physical problems.
While feelings of sadness are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days, depression lasts a long time and interferes with daily life.
As stated on the National Institutes of Health website, there are three categories of depression: major depression, dysthymia (moderate depression) and minor depression.
Major depression is characterized by a combination of symptoms that disable or prevent a person from functioning normally.
Dysthymia (moderate depression) is characterized by long-term (two or more years) symptoms that are not severe enough to disable a person but can prevent normal functioning or feeling well.
Finally, minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for two weeks or longer that do not meet the criteria for major depression.
Under these broad categories, there are several specific types of depression including psychotic depression, postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder.
Psychotic depression occurs when a person has severe depression and is dealing with delusions and hallucinations. Postpartum depression occurs when a woman has recently given birth and is experiencing hormonal and physical changes. Lastly, SAD takes place when there is less natural sunlight during the winter month, thus there is an onset of depression during this time.
According to the World Health Organization website, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. It is most common among young adults, and women are 70 percent more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime.
College students are particularly at risk and are more likely to experience depression than any other age group, especially during freshman year when freshmen are experiencing numerous and drastic life changes.
As with any mental illness, there are many possible causes of depression such as genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. With so many varying causes, there are also many different forms of treatment.
Also affirmed on the Mayo Clinic website, treatment plans comprise of medications, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy and various home remedies.
SAD is very common in North Dakota because people living in the state experience over 12 hours of darkness each day during the winter months. Light therapy is a widely used form of treatment for SAD. Not to mention, it is considered one of the cheapest treatment plans, which could make it a popular option for college students.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, during light therapy people will sit next to a light therapy box, which emits a bright light that mimics natural outdoor light. By doing this, the light affects the brain chemicals that are linked to mood, thus reducing SAD symptoms significantly.
If you are experiencing any of the previously mentioned symptoms of depression on a daily basis, it is important to get tested. Severe depression commonly leads to suicide, so not only can being tested improve your life, but it can potentially save it.
If you are interested in learning more about depression or want to make an appointment, you are encouraged to visit the Counseling Center located in 212 Ceres Hall on campus.