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Depression: A Student's Perspective



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This is Todd. Todd wakes up at 7:00 a.m. to go to the gym it's his favorite part

of the day. Todd then goes to class. He never skips classes and is an excellent

student. Todd catches up with some friends after

class before going home to eat dinner with his housemates. Todd loves to eat.

Lately Todd hasn't been feeling like himself.

He has trouble sleeping at night. He doesn't feel motivated to workout in the

gym in the morning like he used to. He's been having trouble concentrating

in class and is losing his appetite. Todd's friends are worried about him and

encourage him to go see a doctor. The doctor asks Todd to fill out a lifestyle

questionnaire. The doctor analyzes Todd's symptoms and diagnoses him with major

depressive disorder. Todd does not want to tell anybody about his depression

worried about what his friends might think if they found out.

Don't worry Todd, I will explain all there is to know about depression and

clear up any misconceptions. To start off what exactly is depression? Major

depressive disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by persistently

low mood. The average length of a depressive episode is seen to be six to

eight months. According to a study done by Raw and colleagues nearly 20% of

people will experience a major depressive episode at some point in

their lives. Some of the major emotional symptoms include deep feelings of

sadness, reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities, low sexual desire,

restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, constant irritability, social withdrawal,

and recurrent thoughts of suicide. There are also many physiological symptoms

associated with depression. Some of the most prevalent include unintentional

weight loss, insomnia, loss of energy and even slowed movement or speech.

Depression can really affect you in the long run. Behavior caused by depression

can cause a downfall in a student's academic abilities, disrupt meaningful

relationships with loved ones and lead to malnutrition. Therefore it is very

important to seek treatment. Major depressive disorder can result

from a number of things especially for a student.

It is likely due to a complex combination of factors including

genetics: people who have first-degree relatives who also undergo depression

are at a higher risk themselves. Personal life events: tragic events such as the

death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, or any other type

of stressful occurrence, can increase chances of depression.

Traumatic childhood, sexual or psychological abuse, neglect, poverty, and an unhealthy

lifestyle or a predisposition to developing depression later on in life.

Drugs and medication: prescribed medication such as corticosteroids can

cause side effects resulting in depression. The abuse of recreational

drugs including amphetamines can increase chances of depression too.

There are different ways to treat depression depending on the severity of the

disorder and other circumstances. First off, there are several antidepressant

medications that act upon different neurotransmitters in the body. Selective

serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI is an example of a drug that increases the

amount of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter associated with

happiness. Although there are many drugs that can be obtained to eliminate

depressive symptoms it is not a long-term solution. Cognitive behavioral

therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy

are the two main types of therapies used to treat depression. They help

individuals focus on the present and encourage the regaining of control over

mood and functioning. However, the best solution is to have support from loved

ones to help alleviate feelings of depression. For example, having a sit-down

talk with family members to discuss practical solutions to ongoing problems

can reduce symptoms of depression. There are many facilities here at the McMaster

campus to help students deal with depression. One of them includes the

McMaster Wellness Center where students are able to talk to counselors, receive

advice, and join therapeutic groups with individuals experiencing similar

problems. Additionally, the peer support line at

McMaster allows any student to call and talk to

volunteers about what they are feeling. Unfortunately, in this time and age, there

is still stigmatization associated with depression. However, both education and

spreading awareness are key to ending the stigma that occurs in society. This

negative stereotype of disgrace or discredit towards individuals

experiencing mental illness sets them apart from others. Not only does it hurt

the feelings of individuals experiencing depression, but it also causes them to

feel like they are not good enough. This must stop.

The results of a study done by Stangler, Wensky, and colleagues displays that

45% of people surveyed reported concrete instances of stigmatization after

receiving treatment for depression. However, through treatment education and

understanding we can suppress the effects of major depressive disorder. Our

goal is to put an end to stigmatization and to create a comfortable environment

for everyone by coming together and understanding depression is common and

perfectly acceptable in our society. For more information, please visit wellness.mcmaster.ca