The dangers of depression

Elyse Narozonick, Elyse Narozonick, and Elyse Narozonick

Unlike the colds and flus that take college campuses by storm, some illnesses are more difficult to cure. Depression affects 16 percent of Americans during their lifetime, with college students begin especially vulnerable.

According to the American College Health Association, the rate of students who suffer from depression has risen 56 percent in the last six years, from 10 percent to 16 percent.

“The national trend is that there are more and more students suffering from depression, and I think it’s because of the increasingly complex and competitive world,” said Alyson Bostwick, a personal counselor on campus.

Even with City College’s sunny weather and stunning ocean views, Bostwick said the college ranks high in terms of depression.

City College offers six free counseling sessions and will refer students to local resources if counselors feel that the student needs more counseling or needs to be on medication to treat a chemical imbalance.

The National Institute of Mental Health reported that women are more than twice as likely to become depressed as men. However, men are less likely to seek help. On the Santa Barbara City College Web site is a link to a depression questionnaire to help diagnose depression.

It helps people identify levels of depression, said Bostwick.

Some people who suffer from depression have a chemical imbalance meaning the brain does not produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

In some cases medication may be the only way to recover. Although SBCC cannot prescribe medication, counselors can refer students to local resources.

“Coming in and talking to someone about it and acknowledging it is the first step to recovery,” said Bostwick.

Depression doesn’t always have to be permanent. It is often situational and can be caused by a number of things. According to the City College Web site the most common causes of depression are death of a loved one, a family separation or breakup, among many others.

Bostwick said she has seen many students who change their eating and sleeping habits, activity levels and social interaction. Students report after making these changes that they feel better.

“We look at when they started feeling depressed, and assess if it’s situational or if it’s ongoing,” Bostwick said.

The Santa Barbara City College Web site said that up to 90 percent of people respond well to treatment and have fewer signs of depression.

“The hardest and most important part is to accept and acknowledge it,” said Bostwick. “It takes courage to ask for help.”