Counseling Center
The Counseling, Health & Wellness Center

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Depression Awareness


What is Depression?

Some symptoms of depression.

Depression Screening.  Are you depressed?

More information and links.

Depression and Suicide

Suicide and depression brochure

What is Depression?

Depression is a serious illness. It's more than "feeling blue" and more than "a little sad". Often people refer to sad feelings as "depression": "My girlfriend dumped me. I'm so depressed!" or "I completely blanked out on that test. I'm SO DEPRESSED!" or "I was supposed to go home this weekend, but my ride canceled. I'm depressed!". Probably what people mean in these situations is that they feel sad. Sadness is what you feel when you experience a negative consequence, a disappointment, a loss, or maybe a rejection. Everyone feels sad sometimes. It's an appropriate feeling under certain circumstances, and a part of the normal range of human feelings.

So, if a romance doesn't go the way you wanted, or you fail a calculus test, you would probably feel sad. Everyone would feel some degree of sadness in those circumstances... Then a few days later it would start to pass. After a while you would start to figure out what to do next. You would remain optimistic about the future. You wouldn't excessively blame yourself and feel guilty. You would continue on with your life, and in the end you would get back to your usual self.

That's pretty much how sadness goes: You feel it for a while: A few days, or a week. Then it starts to get better. You return to your usual activities, and your usual range of feelings. You work something out, or solve the problem, or come up with some options. You "chalk it up to experience", move on with your life, and feel better over time.

But some times that's not how it goes. Maybe something really bad happens: Someone dies, you have a serious illness, your parents split up, or you are a crime victim. Or maybe you experience one of the "normal" things like a bad test grade, a difficult romance, or some other disappointment, but instead of getting better, you continue to feel sad. Maybe it continues for weeks and more and more things start to pile up. You start to feel like you have no options, and there's nothing you can do. You lose sleep, or start sleeping too much. You might find yourself feeling guilty, like you can't do anything right, like you will always be a "screw up", and "life sucks".

Maybe now you are slipping into a depression.

People who have a depression cannot just "get over it". With depression, it appears that at some point the chemicals in your brain become affected. Why this happens is not entirely clear. For some people there may be no easily identifiable "trigger". They may just begin feeling more and more sad. For others maybe a "life event", big or small, will start the process. For some people the shortening days of fall and winter can bring it on. The good news is that depression is treatable. With medication or with counseling, or a combination of both, most people can get well, and feel better.

Some symptoms of depression...

Here are some of the symptoms of depression.

Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day. Sometimes it may be others who will notice that you are tearful a lot or "look sad".
Diminished interest or pleasure in all or almost all you activities. For most of the day, nearly every day.
Significant weight loss or gain when you are not trying, or loss or gain in appetite.
Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much.
Being restless or jittery or the other way: Being slowed down in your movements
Feeling fatigue and low energy, nearly every day.
Feeling like you are "worthless" or having excessive guilt.
Having difficulty concentrating, making decision, and thinking.
Thoughts of death, of hurting yourself. Thinking about suicide.

Different people may experience these differently. Some people truly may not realize they are depressed. It may take a friend pointing out that something is wrong.

Screening for depression: Are you depressed?

The Mayo Clinic has an online, interactive Depression Screening Test. If you would like to take the depression screening test, click here.

More information about depression...

The American Psychiatric Association has information about a wide variety of problems. Their information is very factual, and usually represents "state of the art" for that particular problem. To link to the APA Website on depression, follow this link.

Likewise, the American Psychological Association also has information available on a wide variety of problems, including depression. Their information is also "state of the art" in its factual accuracy. To read their brochure about how psychotherapy can help with depression, click here.

The National Institute of Mental Health is also an excellent source of information for current information about depression. Click here for the NIMH site.Read what the NIMH writes about Depression.


Feeling suicidal is a "special case". Students sometimes think that feeling suicidal is a normal part of growing up, and something that everyone goes through, or feels from time to time. In reality, it is almost certainly a sign that you are depressed or over stressed. If you find yourself thinking that life isn't worth living, thinking about death a lot, or feeling that killing yourself may be the only way out, that certainly is not usual sadness. Tell someone! Come to the Counseling Center or to the Health Center. Tell a minister or priest, or rabbi, or your doctor. Talk to a coach, a roommate, a friend, a family member, or parent. Tell a teacher or advisor. But tell someone. Students can call the Counseling Center at 436-3368. Counseling Center services are available to SUNY Oneonta students at no charge, and appointments are generally available in one to two days. Counselors are trained professional people, who have a lot of experience talking with people who feel suicidal. If the Counseling Center is not available, you can call the 24-hour Crisis Services line at 1-844-732-6228. The Crisis Service is for emergencies only. If you are feeling suicidal or self destructive and are perhaps at risk of harming yourself, THAT IS AN EMERGENCY. You do not have to feel that life is not worth living. Things can get better, and you can feel better. If you feel suicidal, don't go it alone.

For more information about suicide...

The United States Surgeon General, Dr. David Satcher, issued "A Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, 1999". This report contains a large amount of very interesting information. To see what the Surgeon General had to say, click here.

For more information about suicide prevention, click here, to go to the National Institute of Mental Health.