Students take part in testing for depression

Dawn Throener

On a gloomy, rainy Thursday morning, counselors screened at least 37 University students to see if their dark moods constituted clinical depression.
As part of National Depression Screening Day, University Counseling and Consulting Services tested students throughout the day, referring at least 26 for follow-up treatment.
“The vast majority of students that came in were significantly depressed,” said Mary Early-Zald, one of the coordinators of the program.
The screening showed similar results to a 1998 Boynton Health Service survey. The survey showed more than one-third of University students feel sad or depressed once or more per week.
“Depression is one of the most frequently undiagnosed problems in the United States,” said Glenn Hirsch, University Counseling and Consulting Services assistant director and licensed psychologist.
The screening — sponsored by University Counseling and Consulting Services, Disabilities Services and the Minnesota Bio Brain Association — was an attempt to catch depression in its early stages.
“The longer (people) wait, the worse it gets,” said Theresa Carufel from the Minnesota Bio Brain Association, adding that with professional help, 85 percent of people suffering from depression can be treated successfully.
“Mental health is becoming the illness of the 21st century,” she said.
Each year since 1994, counselors have screened between 30 and 40 students.
“At the end of the day, we feel like, ‘Wow, there were a lot of people that really needed to be seen,’ and we’re really glad they came in,” Early-Zald said.
Hirsch said depression is normally a short-term experience that people overcome quickly. But for others, depression can be an ongoing concern.
Many people experience both vegetative and emotional symptoms of depression. Vegetative symptoms include fatigue, appetite loss and concentration problems. Emotional symptoms can include prolonged sadness, suicidal thoughts and anxiety.
Tamera Shumaker, a pharmacy graduate student who serves on the board of the Minnesota Bio Brain Association, said she admired students who participated in the screening.
“I think it takes a lot of courage for students to come in and admit they need help,” she said.

— Staff Reporter Craig Gustafson contributed to this report.