The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

South counselor warns of possible depression issues

By Jon Minsloff/reporter

Depression affects all ages and races. But individuals between the ages of 18-24, the average age of college students, have the highest risk of developing symptoms of mental illness, said Michael Eason, a counselor at South Campus.

In his Feb. 18 seminar on South Campus, Eason cited the National Institute of Mental Health as listing common stressors for college students: greater academic demands, new financial responsibilities, changes in social life, exposure to new people, ideas and temptations, greater awareness of sexual issues and anxiety about life post-graduation.

Students struggling with symptoms sometimes neglect to find treatment because they think they can just will themselves out of the depressive rut. Their friends might tell them to get over it. Males are less likely to seek help for the disorder than are females.

Those suffering from depression might also experience periods of anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure.

Lack of sleep also contributes to depression, Eason said. Most students do not get the recommended eight hours but instead only six and a half hours on average. Eason explained how students overstimulate themselves with caffeine and energy drinks, which affect sleeping patterns. He also listed poor diet and lack of physical activity as other factors which might lead to or exacerbate symptoms of the disorder.

One of the worst parts of depression is the anger felt by the sufferer, he said. An individual might have feelings of resentment for the situation or anger over hopelessness in the face of mental illness, he said. These feelings might cause one to act out harshly toward close friends and/or relatives.

“Depression is influenced by both biological and environmental factors,” according to allpsych.com. The evidence given for biological influence is that “first-degree relatives of people with depression have a higher incidence of the illness, whether they are raised with this relative or not.” The site also references situational factors that can exacerbate the depressive disorder, including “lack of a support system, stress, illness in self or loved one, legal difficulties, financial struggles and job problems.”

To treat depression, a combined regimen of psychotherapy, or counseling, and pharmacotherapy, or medication, should be implemented. Psychotherapy helps a patient understand how to gain some control over the illness, and pharmacotherapy can assist with symptoms like lethargy, concentration and motivation.

Depression is not easily detected and often creeps up gradually on stressed individuals.

“I was depressed as hell and didn’t even know it,” said one student who asked not to be named. A number of students interviewed expressed discomfort with talking about mental illness.

The good news: Depression is treatable, especially if diagnosed early. Eason, who has worked at TCC for 20 years, explained how he treats patients dealing with depression.

“Individuals need to see solutions, need to have hope, need to recognize their own assets in dealing with their problems,” he said.

He explained that no set combination of therapy and medication for patients exists.

“I deal with each person as an individual with a unique background and a unique set of problems,” he said.

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