By: Celyn Matienzo
Depression is a disease most people are often quick to dismiss. Unfortunately, it can commonly be found, especially among adults in the United States that are 18 or older . The National Institutes of Health defines an episode of depression as a period of two weeks or more where someone can experience a range of symptoms, including a depressed mood, a loss of interest and enjoyment, as well as changes in the function of one’s body including – but not limited to – changes in sleeping, eating, or level of concentration .
Causes for depression and the appearance of these symptoms can be attributed to a number of different factors, including one’s medical history, life changes, personal trauma, and even illness or medications . The different symptoms that can indicate depression can manifest themselves at any time. The most common time for depression to begin, however, is in early adulthood, and is especially prevalent among college-age students . This explains why depression or depression-like symptoms can be found most often in college students, as they are more likely to be facing any number of these factors at the same time. Students with busy schedules who are still adjusting to their undergraduate program may be quick to dismiss any symptoms of depression as nothing more than the “college lifestyle” . Although this is a tempting assumption to make, the persistence of these symptoms over several weeks without any signs of change despite any attempted changes may be the sign of something much more serious at play . Too often are these signs ignored, and it is unfortunately common to hear about a negative convergence of these and other issues in a student’s life, both in the states and in other countries, often resulting in tragedy. For instance, an article from The Guardian in 2013 describes the story of two students in the UK, both of whom ultimately committed suicide . Noticing and treating depression early can be an important part of saving someone’s life.
The treatments for depression can come in a variety of forms including medicine and antidepressants, psychotherapy, and brain stimulation treatments which can include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) . Each of these different treatments can have varying degrees of efficacy and side effects, and it is important to know that what treatment may work for one person may not work for someone else. The treatments that can be categorized and psychotherapeutic are probably those that are most commonly accessible to students, generally referred to as counseling. More specialized or concentrated forms of psychotherapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) .
Research has been and is still being done to determine the efficacy of various psychotherapeutic treatments, including new forms of treatment such as intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy, or ISDTP. This treatment form was conducted on a group of patients and measured through various mental activities that were meant to assess patient levels of inhibition, mental flexibility regarding shifting rules, as well as psychomotor abilities in responding to different rules and environments . Studies have shown that the effects of depression symptoms have been noticeably lowered in patients that have undergone this treatment, though it is important to be mindful of the fact that what may be measured in a test situation may not necessarily have the same effects on the day-to-day life on an individual .
These types of psychotherapeutic treatments can be especially helpful for college students as these methods can be helpful in bringing the source(s) of depression to mind, finding ways to deal with them, and developing useful tactics for coping with and ultimately changing these behaviors or circumstances .
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