Though depression is a fairly common mental health concern, it is normal to have questions and concerns about it and what to do if you suspect that you or someone you care about might be depressed.
Here we provide answers to some of the most common questions we encounter.
Who will I talk to if I come to the Counseling Center?
Most students come to the Counseling Center by first scheduling an intake appointment, which can be with any of our counselors. For students whose first contact is through an Emergency Walk-In appointment, they will meet with a senior staff clinician or doctoral intern clinician. If you decide to pursue ongoing therapy at the Counseling Center, you will be matched with a therapist who has relevant experience and is qualified to help you. Regardless of who you meet with, this meeting will be collaborative and confidential.
Will my parents be told about my depression?
As a confidential resource, the Counseling Center cannot disclose any information about a student, even if a parent calls to ask for information. If a Counseling Center client provides written consent authorizing a clinician to release such information to a parent, then we will be able to do so.
I used to have depression in the past, but I received help and am now in recovery. How can the Counseling Center help me?
The Counseling Center is able to provide supportive therapy for students in recovery. Some students decide to attend a few sessions of individual therapy as a tune-up, particularly when preparing for or coping with a big transition or when they notice themselves slipping into old behaviors or thought patterns. Others may wish to explore or work on other areas of their life, such as relationships or stress management.
I'm afraid that I might have a very severe type of depression that requires intensive help. For example, I often feel so depressed that I cannot go to class, eat, or take care of myself. What are my options?
Through an intake appointment, a Counseling Center clinician can evaluate the severity of your depression and make a recommendation for an appropriate level of care. For most cases of depression, the Counseling Center can be a helpful resources for therapy. However, in the rare instance that you require more intensive, specialized services than what we can offer, we will work with you to get connected with a treatment program or community provider who matches your needs. We also recommend meeting with the Dean of Students about taking a reduced course load or withdrawing if needed to accommodate your treatment schedule.
I've heard that if a student says they sometimes have suicidal thoughts, the Counseling Center will hospitalize them. Is this true?
Not necessarily. We understand that depression and other mental health concerns can sometimes create suicidal thoughts. We also understand that when it comes to suicidal thoughts, there is a wide range of severity, and not everyone who has suicidal thoughts actually wants to die or kill him/herself. In order to determine the nature of a student's suicidal thoughts and feelings, the Counseling Center uses an empirically-supported suicide assessment protocol to determine risk. Most of the time, students can commit to safety and take steps to effectively manage these thoughts through once-weekly therapy. However, in rare instances, a student might describe imminent risk to self, meaning that they have the plan, means, and intent to harm themselves in the near future. When that happens, hospitalization might be considered as a way to keep that student alive during a time when they cannot guarantee their safety. This is our ethical and legal responsibility.
Does being depressed mean that I need to take medication?
No. Many people are able to effectively manage and recover from depression through therapy. However, medication can be a helpful too. Most medications for depression work on the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine, which have been linked to regulating mood. These medications help to increase their presence in the brain, which has the effect of improving mood and decreasing depressed feelings. If you are curious about whether medication could be helpful for you, your therapist can refer you to a psychiatrist to learn more.