Taking away the stigma

Students find themselves with too many deadlines and not enough time.

Last week The Minnesota Daily printed an article highlighting the growing role of depression for college students. While many recognize the significance of depression in today’s college society, it is often not recognized for what it is – a clinical illness that sometimes requires treatment, not stigma.

College, graduate and professional students today with too many deadlines and not enough time find themselves in “pressure cooker” situations where they feel life’s expectations are just too much to handle. Pressure to study, have an active social life and look good all contribute to the daily stress students feel. Add to that any problems that arise with family or personal relationships, and many students just don’t know how to cope.

Anxiety goes hand-in-hand with depression. People feel pressure to be constantly productive and surround themselves with short, trivial projects because they aren’t able to focus on anything else, because of anxiety.

While high-pressure situations contribute to depression, it can be caused by a biochemical imbalance that makes it difficult for people to deal with life – which is why antidepressant drugs can have significant benefits for those suffering from depression. Of course, such drugs are not for everyone, and those seeking help should of course discuss them with a doctor or psychiatrist they trust.

The good news about depression is that help is available. Many don’t seek help because they fear the stigma of going to a “shrink” – but don’t realize that sometimes a few sessions of talk therapy is all it takes to sort themselves out. Others require more extensive treatment and possibly prescription drugs. Some people respond favorably to alternative therapies such as herbs and acupuncture.

Most students know what depression feels like, at least in the short term, and probably have a friend suffering from depression – or perhaps suffer themselves. The key to feeling better is to get help early and not be afraid of the help available. The University’s resources are available to all students – even to students concerned about their friends’ safety. Students shouldn’t fear the stigma of depression or of seeking help, as help can only improve their lives in the long run.