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ISSUE 116 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/15/2002

Depression screenings provided

By Molly Bayrd
Copy Editor

Friday, November 15, 2002

Recent statistics have revealed that nearly seven percent of college students become depressed each year. Annual depression screenings, which are held on college campuses across the nation, may help to reduce this statistical deluge and prevent the detrimental permeation of this increasingly prevalent depressive condition. On Nov. 7, St. Olaf counselors offered concerned and downhearted students the chance to examine themselves through a depression screening held in Buntrock Commons.

Often, depression coincides with the event of a major life change. One’s first arrival at college is frequently accompanied by a marked disruption of one’s complacency and stability. Students are normally so taken aback by the sudden onslaught of unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings that they are unable to properly identify the new emotions as being depressive.

Mood disorders, as depression and bipolar disorder are commonly known, can also collude with a recent or ongoing physical illness. One’s loss of physical ability very typically promotes the onset of depression. Other types of loss, such as the passing of a loved one, are equally devastating to one’s mental vigor and solidity.

Not only can loss serve as a catalyst for the illness, it can also, through the destructive vehicle of depression, lead to further loss. Sufferers are often so affected by and preoccupied with their depressive states that they neglect other areas of their lives that require attention. People have lost their spouses, homes, bank accounts, and lives all as a result of their inability to cope with their depressive mentalities.

Depression sufferers are normally unaware that the illness is commonly hereditary, though the genetic link is often disguised by substance abuse or other forms of problematic concealment. Sometimes, however, depression can occur out of the blue. Unsuspecting victims may feel totally hopeless and bleak for no reason whatsoever.

The unpredictable and inconsistent nature of depression is the basis of what makes screening such a vital step in the process of mood disorder identification. Screening is also important because it allows a counselor to properly advise a depression victim as to how and where they can procure proper counseling and medication.

At the beginning of the St. Olaf screening, each participant was given a self-evaluation form on which they gauged the consistencies/inconsistencies of their sleeping patterns, dietary habits, concentration levels, etc. The forms, which were analyzed by the counselors present at the screening, were of paramount importance in the screening process; they provided a substantial starting point from which the individual interviews could be launched.

The one-on-one student assessments, which occurred after the presentation of a short video on depression, were held in a separate room. During the interviews, counselors discussed each student’s self-evaluation form and probed for other depression-indicative factors or mentalities that the students had been experiencing. After familiarizing themselves with each student’s condition, the counselors advised their interviewees on whether or not further evaluation would be necessary. The duration of the interviews fell anywhere from five to 15 minutes.

The wait for an appointment with one of the St. Olaf counselors may be long, but ultimately, further examination is worth the delay (and the long walk to the Old Main Annex, in which counseling services are located). In the end, attending a depression screening could end up saving ones life.

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