Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Depression gets closer look

Because of last week’s attacks on New York and Washington, many students are feeling the pain, loss and grief associated with such a horrific event. But help is available and recommended for students who feel their mental health is suffering.

Depression, a serious illness affecting 15 to 25 percent of the general population each year, is one of the most common psychological disorders and can be set off by traumatic events.

Depression is more than just feeling down. It is an illness that has both mental and physical symptoms that can interfere with a person’s normal functioning, with the most severe cases leading to suicide.

People of all different backgrounds are affected by this disorder, though women are three times more likely to suffer from depression than men.

The cause of depression is unclear. Factors such as family history, biochemical imbalances, and cognitive patterns all play a role in making someone susceptible to an episode. Other factors such as abuse, loss, social and cultural issues also contribute to depression.

Greta Guenther, a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry working with University Health Services, said many students don’t exercise, have poor nutrition and suffer from large amounts of stress and from sleep deprivation, which could have an effect on their mental health.

“They just burn themselves out,” Guenther said. “You can’t separate the mind and body, so it’s going to have a biological impact on you.”

According to Guenther, depression is a syndrome that can involve many different symptoms that are analyzed in terms of change.

The main two indicators of depression are loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities or feeling sad. Some other symptoms include feeling worthless or guilty, increased or decreased appetite, problems concentrating, and trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

If someone is experiencing these symptoms for at least two weeks, they may be suffering from depression.

Depression is a rather general term. It encompasses a wide range of experiences from adjustment disorders to major depressive episodes.

Robert McGrath, director of Counseling and Consultation Services at University Health Services, said dysthymic disorder is another form of depression characterized by a chronic flat mood.
However, sufferers might not identify themselves as depressed.

“I ask people to rate themselves on a scale from one to ten, with ten being the best and zero being the absolute pits,” McGrath said. “Dysthymics would rate themselves three to four or five; they just never go higher and they never go much lower.”

Counseling and Consultation Services, a branch of University Health Services, 905 University Ave., is one resource students can use if they need help.

A counselor is also assigned to the Southeast and Lakeshore dorms to provide easy access to residents.

The CCS base their assistance on a brief intermittent model of basic mental health treatment, usually limited to eight to 10 sessions.

Drug therapy is another treatment option for those suffering from more serious bouts of depression. Though there are side effects, medication often proves effective, especially when combined with psychotherapy.

“It’s OK to talk about [depression]. It’s common, there is help and it’s extremely treatable,” Guenther said. “People should be hopeful.”

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