Depression: What Everyone Needs to Know 

College can be a challenging and life-changing experience. Students come to school and encounter new people, situations, and environments. Some of you are sure of who you are and what you are looking for in your college experience while others may feel unsure – about what you want or whether the choices you make from day-to-day are the best ones.

Sometimes all the challenges and changes can overwhelm you or your friends – making you feel down, discouraged, or even angry. But what about the times when your outlook on life changes and daily behaviors and relationships start to suffer? If this has happened to you, or a friend, you might be experiencing depression. There is plenty of information, resources, and assistance for those who experience depression or depression-related behaviors.

What is Depression?

Depression is more than just having the blues, the blahs, or simply feeling down. If you consistently (two weeks or longer) feel down or blue, and maybe a few other things as well (see Signs & Symptoms), you might have clinical depression. Clinical depression is a serious health problem that affects the total person. Clinical depression can change the way you feel, physical health and appearance, social activities, and your ability to handle every day decisions and pressures.

Experts do not yet know all the causes of depression. There may be biological and emotional factors that might increase a person’s chances of developing depression. Research indicates that there may be a genetic link – depression can run in families. Depression can also be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Other situations that can lead to depression include:

  • Life experiences such as death of a family member, loss of a job, financial difficulties or serious illness
  • Abuse of alcohol or other drugs
  • Certain medications and diseases

How Common is Depression?

Clinical depression is more common than you might believe. Depression can affect people at any age and of any race, ethnicity, or socio-economic group. It affects 15 million Americans every year. Approximately 3-5% of the teen population experiences clinical depression each year – that means among 100 friends, 3 – 5 could be clinically depressed. In the last 25 years, the rate of suicide among teenagers and young adults has increased dramatically.

Suicide is often linked to depression. The good news is that with treatment, more than 80% of people with depression, even the most serious forms, can be helped.

Are There Different Kinds of Depression?

There are different types, or forms, of depression. Some people may experience only one episode of depression in their entire life while others might have several episodes. Some depressive episodes may occur suddenly and without warning while others are related to stress or a life situation. Some people have a bipolar disorder in which their moods cycle between two extremes – from the depths of despair to a frenzied talking or actions or unrealistic ideas about their own abilities.

What Kinds of Treatment are Available?

When you decide to seek treatment for depression you can work with a trained mental health professional to decide what type of treatment works best for you. Sometimes the hardest part is asking for help. There are three main types of treatment:

  • Counseling, also called psychotherapy
  • Medication (if required)
  • A combination of counseling and medication

Signs & Symptoms

Not everyone experiences depression the same way. Nor does everyone have all the same signs and symptoms. Below are several common symptoms of depression. If you, or a friend, experience several of these symptoms and they persist for more than two weeks, it is time to get help.
Feelings of:

  • sadness or emptiness
  • helplessness
  • worthlessness
  • hopelessness or pessimism
  • guilt
  • an inability to make decisions
  • difficulties concentrating and remembering
  • a loss of interest in day-to-day activities and socializing
  • an increase in problems with family or school
  • a loss of energy and drive – feeling slow or sluggish
  • sleep problems – trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping too much, or can’t wake up
  • appetite problems – losing or gaining weight
  • headaches, backaches, or stomach aches
  • chronic pain in joints and muscles
  • restlessness or irritability
  • a desire to be alone often
  • missing classes, social events, or sports
  • an increase in alcohol and drug use
  • talking about death or suicide*

* If you or someone you know has thought about suicide, seek help immediately from any of the resources listed below.

Getting Help
There are many resources available to Rutgers University students experiencing depression or depression-related behaviors. All Counseling and Psychological Services are strictly confidential.

Emergencies: In case of an emergency during office hours, contact any of the following offices to be seen as soon as possible.

After hours, contact the Acute Psychiatric Service (APS) of University Behavioral Health Care, the local community mental health center at 732-235-5700. APS provides 24-hour emergency services.

Counseling, Alcohol & Drug Assistance Program & Psychiatric Services
For all CAPS Assistance & Appointments, call 732-932-7884

Main Office
17 Senior Street
College Avenue Campus
61 Nichol Street
Cook/Douglass Campus