Depression is a serious problem sufferers must target and cure

Phil Schurrer and Phil Schurrer

Depression is a word that conjures up many different meanings, depending on the context. Right now, I’m using the word in a medical/psychological setting. Nearly eight years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. As I understand it, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. As such, it is treatable. There are certain signs of the ‘Big D,’ including constant fatigue, the feeling of being just as tired when getting up as when going to bed and a loss of interest in things that normally give pleasure. There’s a difference between anxiety and depression, between preparing for a final exam or a dissertation, and the week-after-week feeling that nothing will get any better. Depression, in this sense, is not merely waking up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’ or feeling ‘down’ because of a broken or damaged relationship. It’s deeper and more lasting. Depression has other conditions that may accompany it, such as obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea and dehydration. I’m familiar with all these. As I understand it, these conditions don’t cause depression but are quite often associated with it. It’s the difference between correlation and causation. Like wild animals that travel in packs, these conditions can often be found together. Don’t try and diagnose yourself. Just as a lawyer defending himself in court has a fool for a client, so too does a person trying to ‘play doctor.’ I’m no physician and this should not be taken as medical advice under any circumstances, but there are people who can diagnose and treat the condition. College life has its share of stresses and problems. Being away from home, away from a ‘safety net,’ experiencing new ideas and making new friends can be both exhilarating and exhausting. For some, these experiences can be troubling. For others, the stress of a new situation, compounded with the baggage brought from an old one (perhaps ongoing family or financial problems), can be disabling. In any case, recognize that this will probably be one of the busiest times of your life. But, in all the hustle and bustle, sometimes it’s good to stop, turn off the cell phone, disconnect the iPod, go into a room alone and sit and just think. Calming oneself can be enormously therapeutic. And if, in your reflections, you see anything out of the ordinary, seek help. Sometimes, thoughts of suicide or physical harm to oneself accompany depression. Should these appear, get help at once. Each of us is too precious and too important, with too much to contribute, to allow this condition to cheat our families, our school, our country and ourselves of our potential. Talk to someone at the Student Counseling Center. Remember, this is a disease, not a moral failure. If chemical imbalances in the brain cause depression, there’s no more reason for shame than having the flu. And ‘thinking happy thoughts’ or having someone telling you to ‘snap out of it’ won’t solve the condition. If you are diagnosed with depression, you’re in good company. Robin Williams, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, Axl Rose, Emily Dickinson and Tipper Gore have all experienced it. If you know someone who is or who may be depressed, stand by him or her. Those experiencing depression need all the friends they can get. We all need each other. We’re all too important to let this prevent us from reaching our full potential. This condition can be treated.