Last week, Trinity University counseling services held a free depression screening. The screening was held because depression affects countless numbers of students each year.
“We expect to see students come in every week presenting with some level of depression. Certainly depression screening day is just one of the more visible things that we do,” said Gary Neal, director of counseling and health services at Trinity.
However, this trend is not uncommon with college-aged students.
“I think we’re about typical of colleges. About 22.5% of the clients we saw during the 2014-2015 year, so the last full year of data we have, were depressed when we saw them the first time. That was the single biggest problem-code, anxiety being second. But I don’t have any reason to believe that is any different than other colleges, especially other colleges like us,” Neal said.
There are many factors that could be contributing to the number of college students suffering from depression. However, stress levels are often cited as contributing factors.
“Certainly the general stress level of college is a trigger, but there are other students that are more vulnerable. About 20% of the clients we saw during in the 2014-2015 year had told us that they had previously been depressed or had been diagnosed with depression by some doctor or mental health specialist prior to visiting us. Some portion of them would have been in therapy or in treatment for depression before they got here,” Neal said.
Several other factors can contribute to a person developing symptoms of depression. These include biological changes, hormonal changes, an injury to the brain, substance abuse or major life changes, according to “Dealing with Depression: What Everyone Should Know,” a pamphlet distributed by counseling services.
Symptoms of depression can also vary for each person. However, according to “Dealing with Depression,” some common symptoms include persistent feelings of being sad, loss of interest in activities, changes in sleep and diet, decreased energy and thoughts of death or suicide.
Counseling services offers depression screenings and other services to increase exposure of the symptoms of depression and to encourage those who need help to seek it.
“We see that as trying to create a little more visibility and an open-pathway for students to seek help. That’s not the only way of course. We have an online depression screener on our website. These are really just meant to be used to explore and see if there is something going on that is worth coming in and talking to one of us about,” Neal said.
Even with all of the services that counseling services provides, there is still room for improvement.
“I think there’s always a few more students out there who could benefit from help,” Neal said.
Counseling services is located on the second floor of Halsell and can be contacted at (210) 999-7011.