By Emily Salvatori, Contributing Writer
Although depression has become synonymous with simply being sad, depression is a serious illness. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that depression is “one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women.” Depression doesn’t just affect one age group, gender, or personality type. Mental illness is an illness, and if you have symptoms of depression, you should seek help, and if you know someone with depression, you should encourage them to seek help.
According to Lisa Witzberger, West Liberty University’s counselor, symptoms of depression include, “Little interest or pleasure in doing things, feeling down, sadness, or hopeless, withdrawal from friends and family.” Depression can also affect a person’s sleeping habits, appetite, social life, and thoughts.
If left untreated, depression can become worse, and can make other pre-existing health problems worse. It could also start to affect the overall quality of life.
The CDC says that depression “is associated with lower workplace productivity and more absenteeism, which result in lower income and higher unemployment.” You should not have to miss out on life when options are available for treatment.
Depression can also lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. If you or someone you know is suicidal, find help immediately.
If you know someone with depression or you’re worried someone you know may have depression, talk to them. It is important to remember while you’re bringing up your concern to remain nonjudgmental, and if they talk to you, listen to them. You can also remind them that help is out there, and be supportive of the decision to get help. It is also important to follow-up, check back in on them and ask them how they’re doing.
There are many reasons a student struggling with depression might not seek help. The belief that getting help signals weakness or failure and the stigma of mental health are factors in not seeking help. While you may believe admitting and seeking help shows weakness, it shows strength by taking steps to improve.
Stigmas surrounding mental health were described in 1999 by the US Surgeon General as “major barriers to access.” Although those statements were made 17 years ago, stigmas unfortunately still exist.
The importance of seeking help if you have depression cannot be overstated. Talk to someone you trust. Talk to the counselor at West Liberty. Take advantage of the free and confidential counseling.
If you have questions or want to schedule an appointment contact Lisa Witzberger at [email protected] or by going to the counseling center located in Main Hall East Wing 138.