According to the World Health Organization, Major depressive Disorder affects over 300 million people worldwide and is the world’s leading causes of disability (http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression). The National Institute of Mental Health noted that in the U.S. in 2016, the highest incidence of major depression in adulthood was among individuals aged 18-25 (10.9%) (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml). In other words, college-aged individuals were the adult group most afflicted by depression.
So, what differentiates an episode of major depression from a normal “spell of the blues?” A major depressive episode is defined by the DSM-V-TR as a two-week period in which 5 or more of the following symptoms have been present (at least one of the symptoms being depressed mood or lost of interest in pleasure).
(1) depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
(2) markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities.
(3) significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
(4) insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
(5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down)
(6) fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
(7) feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick)
(8) diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
(9) recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
For a more in-depth review of major depression please visit https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression. Depression is a deadly serious mental health condition among college students. According to NAMI, 7 percent of college students have “seriously considered suicide” during the past year. Further, suicide is reportedly the 3rd leading cause of death on college campuses. In addition, a 2013 survey conducted by the Association of College Counseling Center Directors (https://www.aucccd.org/) found that 36.4% of college students reported they experienced some level of depression.
Fortunately, major depression is one of the most treatable mental health conditions. There are numerous antidepressant medications that can alleviate symptoms, and there are proven therapy methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, that are very effective in treating major depression.
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression then please seek help from the student mental health or counseling center, a local mental health professional, or, if you are in crisis, enter “local suicide hotline” into your web browser and a phone number will appear that can put you in touch with trained counselors.