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University Counseling Center

Depression

Depression is one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions, affecting approximately 3-5% of males and 6-8% of females in the United States each year.

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • sad or depressed mood
  • low self-esteem
  • apathy or low motivation
  • social withdrawal
  • irritability
  • loss of the ability to experience pleasure
  • changes in sleep
  • changes in appetite

If your child exhibits any of the following, he or she may be suicidal:

  • expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • thinking/talking about suicide or being dead, or self-harm
  • suddenly seeming more happy or calm during a depressive episode
  • contacting individuals he/she cares about
  • giving away personal belongings and getting his/her affairs in order

It may be important to ask your child directly about suicidal thoughts or plans.

Remember – asking someone about suicidal thoughts and plans will NOT increase the likelihood of someone acting on them.

As a parent, what can I do to help?

  • Talk with your child when you can be alone and uninterrupted
  • Tell your child that you care
  • Express any concerns about your child’s well-being directly
  • Express your willingness to help
  • Listen actively (e.g., reflecting back what you hear)
  • Encourage the expression of feelings and empathize with your child’s pain
  • Educate yourself about depression and share information with your child
  • Emphasize that many people experience depression at some point in their lives and depression is a treatable medical condition
  • Encourage your child to go to the University Counseling Center or to ask his/her primary caregiver about his/her symptoms and how to best address them

What should I NOT do?

  • Do NOT dismiss or minimize your child’s feelings by providing advice like, “snap out of it,” “pull yourself together,” or “it’s not a big deal”
  • Do NOT encourage your child to take on too much, too soon
  • Do NOT agree with your child’s negative views—only empathize with these feelings and express understanding.
  • If your help is rejected, do NOT take this personally or respond in a negative way. Continue to offer consistent support to your child, share your feelings, and perhaps try to focus on concrete problem behaviors, rather than “depression.”
  • Do NOT agree to keep secrets about any suicidal thoughts or plans that are revealed

If you feel your child is actively suicidal and you feel he/she is an imminent danger to him/herself:

  • Call UCC: (585) 275-3113, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week or walk in Monday-Thursday: 8:30am -7:00pm or Friday: 8:30am – 5:00pm.
  • Call University Security: (585) 275-3333 (call 911 off-campus)
  • Try to convince your child to go to the nearest Emergency Department
  • Call Lifeline: (585) 275-5151 or call 1-800-SUICIDE

Effective treatments for depression

Psychotherapeutic treatments can address:

  • Thoughts and behaviors associated with depression
  • Your child’s relationships
  • Environmental contributors to the depression
  • Education about depression
  • Developing coping strategies and relaxation training

Medication treatments:

  • Help to correct chemical imbalances that contribute to symptoms of depression.
  • The most commonly prescribed medications affect levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Psychotherapy and medication treatments may be administered individually or in combination, depending on what your child and his/her clinician determine will be most beneficial for your child.