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Depression and Homesickness Among College Students

Discerning the Difference Between Homesickness and Depression When Your Student Heads off to School

depressionCollege students face many new experiences. For entering freshmen, the sheer number of new circumstances can, at times, feel overwhelming. For some college students, that overwhelming feeling can turn into depression. As the parent of a college student, you’ll want to be able to tell the difference between normal homesickness and concerning depression.

Think about what college freshmen are dealing with as they begin college life away from home. They’ve left behind home, family, comfortable routines, pets and friends. Homesickness is an all-too-common reaction for those just entering college. And the symptoms of homesickness can range from mild sadness to profound difficulty adjusting. The grief, insecurity and stress of starting something so totally new can leave kids feeling nostalgic for home and pessimistic about their new venture. This emotional struggle can last weeks, a semester, or even for the first year – though, it usually ebbs and flows. What’s important to remember (both parents and students) is that homesickness is normal.

On the other hand, if symptoms of homesickness persist or worsen after the first semester, it’s possible that the student is developing depression. If homesickness is interfering with the student’s ability to learn, study and take part in fun activities – it may actually be more than homesickness. As a parent, be prepared for some homesickness. However, if this sadness isn’t punctuated by times of fun and positive growth then you might suggest your child pay a visit to the campus mental health office.

Since homesickness can last a while, you might want to monitor your student for the first semester. If you are still concerned when they come home for a fall or Christmas break be sure to bring them in to Family Guidance Center. We’ve helped many young adults get through the emotional challenges of change and loss. We can help your college student too.

Male Depression Gets a Voice

Why Men Avoid Getting Help for Depression

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 10 men in this country experience anxiety ordepression depression in a year. Depression affects men of all ages-yet, less than half seek out treatment.

A recent polling of 21,000 men revealed that nearly 40 percent of those younger than 45 years had either talked with a mental health worker or taken medication to treat a mood disorder within the last year. That figure is nearly identical to the number of men over age 45 who had done so. Clearly, depression affects younger males, too. The poll also revealed that young white males are more likely than their Hispanic or black peers to experience depression.

Hollywood celebrity Jared Padalecki can attest to the truth of such findings. The 25 year old recently went public with his own struggle with depression. Fans have been hugely supportive. But not all men are as ready to admit their struggle. Many men believe that depression is somehow tied to female hormones and therefore not a problem men should face.

Researchers have been actively working to lower the stigma associated with men seeking help for depression. They have used video clips of men talking about their own depression and the benefits of treatment to change perceptions. The strategy has helped to lower this stigma for men.
If you are a man and find yourself not feeling in control of your emotional well-being don’t ignore it. You may feel bouts of sadness or you may experience anger, frustration or irritability – without any real cause. If so, know that you are not the only one. Many men experience depression. Be one of those who does something positive about it. Contact Family Guidance Center and set up a time to talk with one of our mental health professionals.

Recognizing Depression in Your Loved One

The Signs to Look for That Could Signal Depression

depressionWe’ve all been on hand when someone close to us goes through a tough time. Things may not be going well at work or with home relationships. Perhaps the person received some bad news regarding their health. How can you tell if a normal (and temporary) “down” reaction to difficulty has become diagnosable depression that needs treatment? Here are a few signs to look for:

Not the Same Person

How a person looks and how they take care of themselves can be indicators of depression. People with depression may neglect their personal appearance and even their own hygiene. Common personality changes include angry outbursts, frequent weepiness, risk-taking behavior and substance abuse. If your loved one no longer looks or acts like themselves, it could be due to depression.

Uncharacteristic Isolation

Another common symptom of depression is social isolation. People who used to enjoy the company of others may suddenly prefer to be alone. They may sleep excessively or zone out in front of the television set. Social withdrawal can also manifest as a struggle to meet normal responsibilities (like getting to work, finishing schoolwork or cleaning the house). For the person with depression even something they once enjoyed can now seem like too much effort.

If someone you love shows several of these signs, it could be that they are depressed. At Family Guidance Center we have mental health professionals that can help those who have symptoms of depression. Don’t wait for your loved one to take the first step – take the first step for them. Contact Family Guidance Center today.

The Effect of Depression on Adolescents

The Face of Adolescent Depression

depressionThe years of transition from childhood to adulthood are fraught with physical, mental and emotional change. Of course teens feel unsteady and unsure in this midst of so much uncertainty. The good news is that, for most adolescents, things will settle down sometime near the end of their college years when their brain and body have finished maturing. But for one out of every 20 adolescents, symptoms of depression will stay with them.

Not a Normal Part of Emotional Development

Emotional mood swings are common during these years. So is the need for more sleep. Depression, on the other hand, is not a normal part of adolescent emotional development. Depression is an emotional disorder. Irritability and agitation can be symptoms. Parents have the delicate job of observing their adolescents to learn what is moodiness and what is a sign of something more serious.

Not Limited

Depression doesn’t only affect one group of teens, it affects all kinds of personalities. Avoid the trap of thinking that athletic kids can’t be depressed or book worms are more prone to depression.

Not Temporary

Depression is not a temporary state. One point of diagnostic criteria is that sadness and other symptoms persist for two weeks or more. Once a young person experiences depression, their chances of experiencing another episode in the future increases.

It is Treatable

The good news about adolescent depression is that it is treatable. For those with mild-moderate depression. A mental health professional can help you with a plan of treatment for your teen that will start them on the road to recovery.

At Family Guidance Center we’ve worked with hundreds of young people dealing with depression. We understand the signs and know how to help. Don’t wonder if your teen is depressed. Talk with us to find out how to know for certain.

New Moms Face Risk for Depression up to One Year Post-Delivery

Where are Early Post-Partum Depression Screenings Falling Short?

A study whose findings recently appeared in the Annals of Family Medicine found that moms face the risk of developing depression for muchdepression longer than health professionals first thought. Fluctuating hormones and major life changes can trigger depression for new mothers. According to the study, new moms may be at risk for up to a year or longer.

The study gathered data from 1,432 women across the country at several junctures after they had given birth. For approximately 33 percent of those surveyed, this was their first time having a baby. Researchers asked these moms to score criteria such as lack of appetite, daily feelings of sadness and self-harm ideation on a scale of zero to three. A score of 10 or above was considered an indication of high risk for depression.

Results from the first screening conducted four to 12 weeks postpartum showed that 100 percent of the women scored under 10. However, after six months, 10.9 percent scored 10 or above and 12 months later 16.9 percent scored in the high-risk range. This confirms CDC estimates which say that 15 percent of U.S. women live with postpartum depression during their first year following childbirth.

What was perhaps more surprising was that women who initially appeared least apt to become depressed wound up in the high-risk category as time went on. The study indicates that depression screenings for new moms likely need to be administered beyond the initial one-to-three month period.

At Family Guidance Center we have experience helping men and women navigate through all kinds of life stages where depression poses a risk factor. The great news is that when it is addressed early on, depression is a treatable illness. With prompt help, moms or anyone confronted by depression, can find hope. Call us or stop by today.