By Magdalayna Drivas | Reporter
Students with depression are not alone and can receive free help from the Baylor Counseling Center.
College can be overwhelming at times, and it’s not uncommon to feel sad after failing a test or questioning your future, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For students with depression, feelings of sadness or apathy can be debilitating.
“With grief, the sadness comes and goes in waves, whereas with depression it’s going to be pretty consistent,” said Eric Antens, licensed clinical professional counselor. “It doesn’t just go away.”
Antens presented ways to identify and treat depression to the Baylor community in an online seminar Wednesday. Antens said more than 20% of women and 12% of men will experience depression in their lifetime.
“Although antidepressants are one of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs out there, depression itself is thought to be very much untreated,” Antens said. “Most people with depression don’t seek help.”
Antens emphasized the importance of recognizing that mental illness is just as legitimate as physical illness.
“Depression is a medical condition. It’s not just something that’s all in your mind or something that’s made up,” Antens said. “It’s not a sign of personal weakness. It’s a biological chemical process in the brain.”
Antens said the most common symptom of depression is a persistent sad or empty mood, but physical symptoms including headaches, fatigue and sleep disturbance can also be signs of depression.
“One of the interesting things about depression is that if somebody has a chronic pain disorder along with depression, often times by treating the depression you can substantially impact the illness that’s causing the pain as well,” Antens said.
If someone you know has depression, Antens said the most important way you can help is by listening.
“Listening and validating feelings of sadness, grief, anger, frustration- it’s acknowledging,” Antens said. “It can be hard, but know that you’re doing them a world of good.”
Antens said antidepressant medication is helpful for some, but counseling is the best form of treatment to prevent depression from returning.
“You can be on an antidepressant, but you’re not really learning much from that,” Antens said. “With counseling, it’s important because you learn coping strategies and how to recognize depressive symptoms.”
Lititz, Pa. junior Mackenzie Chakara said the walk-in clinic is very helpful for busy college students.
“It’s such a great service that Baylor offers,” Chakara said. “The staff makes you feel very comfortable and they work around your schedule.”
Students can receive counseling on-campus through the Baylor Counseling Center’s walk-in clinic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the McLane Student Life Center, with no appointment necessary. The initial assessment is free and a clinician will determine what level of care is best for the student based on their needs.
“If you or somebody you care about has depression, it will go away,” Antens said. “It may take months, but if you treat it aggressively, it will go away.”