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Opinion

Mysterious depression affects students, hope contributes a cure

April 13, 2012

Depression is a mysterious thing. It’s an unseen force that can completely debilitate a person. It comes and goes as it pleases, destroying everything it can wrap its smoky tendrils around. Because of it, all emotions other than emptiness and sadness disappear. Soon, all motivation and hope is lost. And that is when this becomes dangerous. To overcome depression, refuse to let it take away the truth; the truth is what will pull you through.

A major part of beating depression is to stop hiding it. No matter how dark the depression, it cannot survive the lights of exposure. Simply tell someone how you feel. This can be incredibly difficult, but you need help.

Depression often saps a person’s drive to do anything, especially something as difficult as overcoming such awful feelings, so allow others to help you through this journey. Talk to your parents, your friends, or your significant other. If you feel they are estranged and will not help, reach out to a favorite professor, club leader, or school counselor.

I promise that there is someone who cares, even if it does not feel like it. Some people will not understand or will not react the way you need; be patient and keep trying. Explain what you can and tell them what you want, be it someone to listen, advise, or take a bit of work off your hands.

With a strong support circle, be it comprised of one or 10 confidants, begin learning about depression and different ways of overcoming it. A simple place to start is with your general practitioner. Learn from him or her about different counseling resources and see if you can receive a referral to a psychiatrist. Counseling is one of the best ways to begin the healing process.

Also, many people use anti-depressants, some only temporarily, some long term. Personally, I view medication as more of a short-term fix, something that can give you enough energy to start healing in other ways. However, this is a personal decision and one you can further discuss with a psychiatrist, close family and friends, and most importantly, yourself.

If at all possible, definitely search out a psychiatrist for a prescription instead of a general practitioner; psychiatrists study these medications an additional four or more years beyond normal medical school, and are much more knowledgeable of which to use for what people.

However, healing does not only occur under the watch of professionals. Many other activities can aid in overcoming depression. The following are only a few options: massage, energy field work, natural supplements, meditation, exercise, journaling, healthy eating and simply doing your normal daily tasks. Depression is an expert in making people quit doing what they love. While it is advisable to cut back enough to avoid being overwhelmed, do not cease all activities. Search for what you need.

If you need to feel a spark of life, think of every activity you can possibly imagine that used to make you smile or feel alive. Then begin trying these items. If not a single item makes you happy, try new things or simply retry the old ideas. While this seems draining (as does everything when you are depressed) if you keep trying, something will manage to lift the dark cloud, if only for a moment.

If you experience that moment, revel in it! Rejoice in every second not spent hiding, crying, or feeling empty. While the ultimate goal is to feel normal amounts of happiness, realize that feeling any happiness at all is a huge accomplishment and not one to brush aside as insignificant.

While this short column in no way offers a comprehensive list of solutions to depression, hopefully it gives you a sounding board for where to start. Spend time researching depression. Naturally, do not believe everything you read, but it will help you draw your own conclusions and searching for solutions that fit your lifestyle and beliefs. Primarily, remember Albus Dumbledore’s wise words: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Jaime Haines is an exuberant puppy-lover and “House” addict and plans to use her psychology degree to encourage activism and well-being through counseling, workshops, speeches, and the written word.