3 Things About Depression Every Collegiette Should Know

This last month or so, we lost a great man, Robin Williams, to depression. In the wake of this, I, among many others, have felt the need to have a conversation about some of the parts of depression that people who are fortunate enough not to suffer from it may not know. Here are just a few brief points that more people ought to know:

 

Birth Control Can Cause or Worsen Depression

Among many good side effects, such as a regular periods or less cramps, birth control can also have the less talked about, but very serious side effect of causing or worsening depression in women who take it. I am all for birth control, and love that we have this option as women in this day and age. I have benefited from birth control for many years of my life. At the same time, I find myself very concerned that no one seems to want to talk about this potentially life threatening side effect of it, even as just a warning to those who would choose to begin to use it. If you ever have the time, I would recommend trying to google “birth control and depression.” You may be shocked by the results.

 

Depression Can Be Set Off By a Single Event or Trauma, Or It Can Not

I’m sure that many of you have often heard that depression can be both a diagnosis and a mood. Often the way to tell them apart is said to be that depression as a mood is just being upset about something that happened, and it will pass. While the part about it passing in a semi-reasonable timeframe is true, diagnosable, life-affecting depression can also be triggered by a single event in one’s life. Often this is just the “straw that broke the camel’s back” sort of scenario, and even if it is just one break up or some other circumstance that you feel should not be enough to effect you this way, a change in hormones and other factors that cause depression can happen. Don’t put yourself or others down for still being upset about something that’s happened, no matter how small or how little sense it makes. I say, if it’s been over a month or two and even you are questioning why you still get upset about this, then start being concerned and watching for depression. Many people have a temporary depression, a “bad year” or six months where they just can’t seem to get their life right. Do everything you can to work through it, but at the same time, don’t ignore it or say it is not serious just because it may be temporary.

 

Asking For Help Can Be the Strongest Thing to Do

Disclaimer: it can also be the hardest.

Admitting that you need something else to help prop you back up into the realm of functioning humans feels like defeat. All our lives, we are told that we can regulate our moods with a little hard work and determination. True, diagnosable, clinical depression is not like that. Something is actually physically wrong with how your brain is functioning, and it needs medication like any other physical problem. Like a headache, depression often needs to be given medication to deal with the pain. While there is also a source to the problem, which can or cannot be dealt with (and should be if it can), getting medicated in the meantime or so that you can think clearly enough TO deal with the problem is often a necessity. While it will feel like you are giving up, it is also a relief. Don’t be surprised if it is difficult to ask for medication, or to admit what is wrong and how wrong it is, but do it. If you have a friend who is trying to tell you they feel that way, listen. I’ve had a friend come to me in such a bad shape she knew she needed a prescription from the doctor, but she could not call to set up the appointment or go to it herself. I took her there and stayed in the room with her, bringing up the broad subject to her doctor with concern, and her permission. She is now doing well, happy and healthy, so don’t be afraid to speak up to a friend to tell them they need help, and that you are willing to help them to get it. Often times people need support, and it is not giving up to take meds as well as try working through any emotional problems through usually means like talking about it or writing it down or painting it out. 

 

***

 

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.

 

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.

 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
 
-By Walt Whitman