Understanding The Early Signs of Depression in College Students

Depression is very common in the youth but the signs can be missed without knowing what to look for. Many people don’t know what to look for because they don’t understand what depression is. Depression is an illness that affects your entire body and makes you lose interest to do anything or causes you to act out of the ordinary. Some symptoms of depression include changes in appetite or weight, loss of interest in activities, increased irritability, skipping school or work, and isolating yourself from friends and family.

Joseph Grey ‘25 talks about how depression has taken a toll on him while being a college student.  

“I am originally from California so when I moved here I didn’t know anyone so I felt very lonely,” Grey said. “If I was having a bad day, I would just skip class to go relax. My grades started to drop but I didn’t care. I just had no motivation to do anything.”

Grey realized that it was not good to go through this tough time in his life alone and was brave enough to ask for help.

“I finally told my mom about me skipping class, but I wasn’t sure she would understand how I was feeling. She suggested that I see a counselor about it and that she was there to support me,” Grey said. “After seeing a counselor, I was diagnosed with depression. I won’t lie, it took me by surprise but I put in the work to get better. “

Reaching out to someone was a good first step for Grey, and he believes that students that have similar feelings should do the same. Grey also talked about the advice he was given by his counselor.

“Some advice that I was given that really helped me was going out and trying new things. By doing this, I no longer felt like I was stuck in one spot without any purpose,” Grey said. “Not only that but ever since I started talking about how I felt with those who support me, I have felt so much better. I was skeptical about getting help at first because I didn’t want to be judged. Asking for help is the hard part. Once you get past that, it gets easier as long as you believe in yourself.”

The Loyola University Student Health Center gives advice on how to combat depression and how to help a friend who may be in need. Firstly, you have to figure out what is bothering you. Is the source of it school, social life, a relationship, or something else? Any of these things can cause an abundance of stress and can be too much to handle at times. Also, do not tell a friend in need that they should just cheer up or that you feel the same way as them. Doing this can minimize their feelings or make them feel as though they are being criticized. 

An important factor in combating this illness is that you should have a support system. Sometimes talking to someone we know is not effective and counseling can give people a better understanding of themselves. Marina Sarris, researcher of depression and autism at Kennedy Krieger Institute, breaks down diagnosing depression. 

“Major depression is one of the more serious conditions common in people with autism, one that may be misunderstood or even missed,” Sarris said. “While sleep and behavioral problems rarely go unnoticed, depression may hide from view.” 

A common misconception that people have is that when they are diagnosed with depression, they should take medication and then everything will be okay. Sarris talks about how it goes beyond just treatment; you have to take many factors into consideration. 

“Before prescribing a treatment, it is important to do a complete evaluation of a child’s developmental, medical, family, social and educational history,” Sarris said. “It’s not as simple as saying to the parent, ‘Your child is depressed, here’s a prescription for them’. We also determine what other problems or psychiatric conditions a patient has as well as what conditions he doesn’t have.”

If you ever feel like you are overwhelmed and need someone to talk to for advice or guidance, don’t hesitate to call and visit the Counseling Center. It is located in the Humanities building in room 150. For more information, visit their website.