Sending a personal text message to a friend was the last thing he did before his head hit the pillow. He slept for eight hours that night, content with the knowledge that his homework was done and the next day looked promising.
He woke up excited to see a reply from his friend waiting for him on his phone, but grew quickly dismayed at the slightly dissapointing contents of the message.
Without warning, a rapid change of his perception of the world around him occurred. The day no longer looked promising. The eight hours of sleep weren’t enough. The homework had been completed without much thought.
Mike Hopkins, a junior studying communication who is diagnosed with clinical depression, said that for him a small thing like a text message can trigger his depression as easily as big things.
Depression in a general sense is a feeling of melancholy that can often negatively affect the moods, emotions and physical aspects of a person, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
For some people, like Hopkins, depression is a constant presence that fluctuates from day to day. For others, depression is living in a state of perpetual sadness.
The problem, though, is that there doesn’t seem to be one direct cause for it, according to the Mayo Clinic website.
“Mental disorders are the most frustrating thing,” Hopkins said. “When you break your leg, other people relate. But depression isn’t a logical problem.”
Depression also comes in a variety of forms, such as clinical depression, a severe, persistent case of depression; seasonal depression, which occurs at the same time annually; and postpartum depression, which occurs after the birth of a child. Bipolar disorder is also diagnosed as a variation of depression.
In the U.S. in 2002, the NIMH reported in their book “Depression” that 9.5 percent of the general population had a depressive illness. That percentage has stayed consistent over the last decade.
In 2009, a study of college students by the NIMH revealed that in 2- and 4-year educational institutions, 30 percent of students admitted to feeling depressed to a point where they couldn’t function in the last year.
That percentage means there are between 1,500 and 4,500 students out of the almost 15,000 at BYU-Idaho that deal with some sort of depression.
Doctors and psychologists will often recommend different treatments such as anti-depressants, psychotherapy — speaking with a therapist — and in some cases, herbal therapies to deal with the depression, but some students have found other ways to cope with their conditions.
Megan Marsden, a junior studying communication, copes with her severe situational depression — depression that usually last as long as the events that triggered it — by doing things with the people who love her unconditionally.
“My mom would come with me on a hike every morning,” Marsden said. “Nature is a very spiritual thing for me — a big part of my life. There’s just something for me about being in the mountains and the forests that helps me feel closer to heaven.”
Other students agreed that talking about depression and spending time around other people helps to treat the symptoms.
“Keep involved. Don’t be stagnant. Don’t go home. You cannot allow yourself to be alone. You’ve got to get out of your apartment. The appropriate word is ‘do’,” said Elle Daily, a junior studying mechanical engineering with depression.
The Mayo Clinic website confirms that, among other methods, joining support groups, participating in social activities and talking through the problems with others are effective means of coping.
However, people with depression can find it difficult to talk about it or even divulge to others that they are depressed.
“My biggest thing with depression is the people who believe it’s not a problem, who believe you just need to buck up,” Daily said.
Others with depression, like Daily, often feel ostracized and stigmatized because of careless comments their peers make or because someone reacted negatively to their condition.
Such comments can worsen a person’s condition and lessen their chance of talking about it with others, according to the book “Depression.”
“Depression attacks your trust the most,” Hopkins said.
To combat this stigmatization, students must be willing to listen to those who open up about their condition, according to www.depression.org. The best thing a friend or family member can do is to learn about depression, support their loved one, listen instead of talking and spend time with them.
Following these steps will help them maintain a positive attitude, which, for some students with depression, can make a huge difference.
“I’ve learned that a positive attitude just goes such a long way,” Marsden said. “If we believe that things will get better, if we believe in all the blessings we have, we’ll come out better.”
Living with depression in college — or for a lifetime — can be daunting even with the constant support of loved ones and a determination to think positively.
“While depression can be difficult to overcome, most people who suffer from depression eventually live productive, fulfilling lives,” said Reed Stoddard, director of the BYU-I Counseling Center.
However, Hopkins, Marsden and Daily are proof that someone with depression can live a successful life with family, friends, jobs and an education. With the proper support and treatment, the battle with depression, while ongoing, can be made easier.