By Timothy Jensen
Depression is an illness that goes unnoticed, and that is why BYU”s Counseling and Career Center is holding a free pre-screening to promote awareness.
The free pre-screening is offered today from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., in 2500 of the Wilkinson Student Center.
“Ninety percent of clients who come here find some benefit from counseling,” said David W. Smart, associate director of Counseling and Career Center.
More than 19 million Americans suffer from depression. However, only one-third seek medical treatment.
When students come into the center, they fill out a Student Counseling Concerns Survey. It has 42 questions on multiple topics.
In the history of the Counseling and Career Center, 7,021 students have taken the survey. About 57 percent of the respondents say that depression is of some concern in their lives.
“Of all the different concerns that students bring, depression is one of the most treatable,” Smart said. “Our information indicates that students often make good recovery from depressive symptoms.”
According to a national survey, 80 percent of those with the illness can be treated.
The BYU survey also revealed that 74 percent of women marked some concern of depression. Depression ranked third in frequency amongst all other illnesses.
According to the National Mental Health Associations, one in eight women are induced with clinical depression. They are twice as likely to experience depression than men.
Although the reason is not completely known, it can be speculated that biological changes in women, such as hormonal imbalance and genetics, can promote depression.
Additionally, the social struggles that women face can enhance feelings of depression. Such struggles include high stress levels in the workforce, family responsibility, sexual abuse and elevated expectations of women.
“Women are able to talk about their concerns more openly than men,” Smart said. “That is true with any mental health agency.”
Smart said because women are more open, more women come in and get help. They prefer not to keep everything bottled up.
The National Mental Health Associations said although depression is treatable, it will not go away on its own. Clinical depression is like any illness: the best thing to do is seek professional help and try not to combat it alone.
“Our data shows that we do pretty well in making a clinically significant improvement,” said Richard A. Moody, associate clinical professor and psychologist.
Moody said pre-screening takes place in a confidential setting. A counselor goes through the Counseling and Career Center survey with the individual. Next, the counseling staff decides what is the best treatment for the individual. If a person is having difficulty with stress, he or she can go to a stress management facility. If they are dealing with relationship issues, they can go to group therapy.
Different levels of clinical depression exist. The severity of it depends on how saturated one is in a certain aspect.
The causes of depression can be attributed to imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, other diseases or illnesses, negative thinking patterns, family history of depression, and frequent and excessive alcohol consumption.
Also, certain types of medications lead to depression. It is important to consult with a doctor all of the medications one is taking, and report any depressive symptoms.
Moody said it is difficult to understand how prevalent depression is at BYU. He said lots of people have difficulty in reporting they have a problem, because of the culture of high expectations. People value their independence and self-sufficiency. If there is a problem they solve it on their own.
“Sometimes they need to feel pretty bad, pretty desperate before they come in,” Moody said. “This is fine. We would rather have then come in at whatever state they are at to asses their needs.”
He also said the purpose of the National Screening Day is to get people to come in that wouldn”t typically do so. It doesn”t always have to be an intense issue, either. One may come in to ask about a friend whom may be having problems. These questions are certainly welcome.
“It is probably one of the largest counseling centers in the nation,”Moody said.
The BYU Counseling and Career Center has 22 licensed psychologists who say they are here to help.
Moody said that he hopes that people take advantage of this opportunity because this is a staff of confident professionals that can make a difference. He knows that people are going to be ready, when their ready.
If you have been experiencing five (5) or more of the below symptoms for more than two (2) weeks, if suicide is a serious concern, or if the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with a daily routine — see your doctor or qualified mental health professional.
Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
Sleeping too much or too little; middle-of-night or early-morning waking
Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
Thoughts of death or suicide