It’s common to feel sad or down from time to time. Everyone experiences sadness; it’s a part of being human. Having a difficult week or an afternoon “funk” is nothing to be concerned about, and most people can identify ways to cope with these regular ups and downs in mood.
How do we know if the sadness is beyond what is typical? How do we know when it has crossed over into depression?
For some people, the signs of depression might be difficult to recognize. Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and numbness. It can also include loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Sometimes, we have an idea why these symptoms show up. They may result from challenges like adjusting to college, failing a course, loss of relationships, or adjusting to a physical illness. Other times, we may not know what has triggered these feelings, which can make them all the more confusing.
Let’s take a look at “Marcus.”
Marcus has been feeling unusually miserable for the last few weeks. Sometimes he is sad and feels he could cry for no identifiable reason. Other times he feels highly irritable. He has started arguments with his roommates and is not sure why. Even though he is tired all the time, he has trouble sleeping nearly every night. Marcus doesn’t feel like eating and has lost weight. He can’t keep his mind on his school work and is putting off making decisions. Even day-to-day tasks, like doing his laundry or getting out of bed, seem too much for him. He is falling behind in his classes and is starting to feel hopeless that he will ever be happy again. In his worst moments, he wonders if he is a burden on everyone and if his family would be better off without him.
Marcus is facing more than passing sadness. Marcus is experiencing depression. Depression can appear in a variety of ways. Whereas Marcus can’t sleep, some people with depression want to sleep all the time. Although Marcus doesn’t have an appetite, some folks with depression eat a lot more than usual and may gain weight. Take a look at the list below for other ways depression may manifest:
Symptoms of depression:
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal thoughts
- Sadness, tearful, emptiness or hopelessness
- Sudden angry outbursts, feeling irritated, becoming frustrated even over small matters
- Worthlessness or guilt, self-blame, and anxiety
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced or increased appetite; weight gain or weight loss
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
People can experience depression for a short period of time, may have re-occurring episodes, or may have a more persistent form. Regardless, there are options to increase coping skills and reduce the impact of depression on your life.
Check out these resources:
- Use this online mental health resource. It is free for USF students, and is confidential, convenient, and controlled by you.
- Let’s Talk: This is a brief consultation – around 15 minutes, and requires zero paperwork. Simply drop in one of our on-campus locations to speak with a counselor.
- Counseling: USF has drop-in groups, group therapy, and individual counseling to help you learn to manage your mental health needs.
- Feel Better Now: This bank of resources includes meditation, positive thinking, and healthy coping tools.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, you can contact the counseling center, and if after-hours, contact USF’s 24-hour number, 813-974-2831, to speak with a crisis counselor.
Do not hesitate to contact the Office of Student Outreach and Support at (813) 974-6130 if you feel a friend would benefit from support but they are not seeking resources.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves or others, contact University Police by dialing 911, or go to a local emergency room–you could be saving a life!