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Brockport / Counseling Center / Mental Health / Depression


Depression and sadness are not the same

How do you know when what you are experiencing is just a bad day or something more serious? We all have our ups and downs depending on how our day or week is going. The transition from bad day to rut to clinical depression can be gradual and leave even the strongest person thinking, "What is wrong with me? I just have to try harder! Why am I so lazy? Why can't I get out of bed?"

The Signs of Clinical Depression

  • Concentration is often impaired
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Increase in self-critical thoughts with a voice in the back of one's mind providing a constant barrage of harsh, negative statements
  • Sleep disturbance or unable to fall back to sleep
  • Feeling fatigued after 12 hours of sleep
  • Decrease in appetite or food loses its taste
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness and/or hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Increased isolation
  • Missing deadlines or a drop in standards
  • Change in personality
  • Increased sexual promiscuity
  • Increased alcohol/drug use

If someone experiences most of the above symptoms for more than two weeks, there is a good chance they are suffering from a clinical depression.

Frequently Asked Questions About Depression


Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually fleeting and pass within a couple of days. When a person has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the disorder and those who care about him or her. Depression is a common but serious illness, and most that experience it need treatment to get better. If we have a family history of one of these illnesses, our susceptibility increases. This explains how some develop a clinical depression only after extraordinary stressors, while others develop clinical depression seemingly out of the blue. Clinical depression is a very common illness that affects approximately 3-5% of the population at any one time. There is a 20% chance of having an episode of clinical depression at some point in one's life. The percentages are similar for the general population and college students.


Clinical depression is readily treatable with counseling and/or medication. Medication can correct the chemical imbalance (low levels of brain serotonin and norepinephrine) that is found in people with symptoms consistent with clinical depression. Unfortunately, fifty percent of people who have clinical depression never get help and suffer silently. Untreated, the average clinical depression can last 9-12 months. With treatment, people often report significant relief within 4-6 weeks.


Clinical depression often has its first onset in people between the ages of 18 and 22. Many stressors are inherent to these years that may contribute to the onset depression: separating physically and psychologically from one's family; managing the increase in freedom; developing and losing love relationships; dealing with the successes and disappointments that occur in academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities; choosing a major; finding a job; leaving the familiarity and security of college.


In general, when approaching a friend, it is most helpful to state what behaviors you have noticed that are of concern, 'I noticed that you have not left your room for the past few days and you have not been going to class.' It is okay to ask about suicide directly. One does not increase the risk of suicide by asking about it; in fact, many people are relieved. If the student is having serious suicidal thoughts, it would be important to call the Counseling Center to have the student seen right away. A counselor can also give advice on how to approach a friend one is concerned about. If it is after hours and you are concerned your friend may attempt to hurt him/herself, call University Police or 911.


The Counseling Center is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday during the academic year to assist students. We are located in Hazen Hall, close to residence halls, academic buildings, and across the courtyard from the Albert Brown Building (formally the Faculty Office Building) and Dailey Hall. Appointments are encouraged and can be made preferably stopping by the office to fill out paperwork.

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Last Updated 10/26/10