Free depression screening today

Adam Griffiths

Free screening for depression and other mental illnesses is available today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Student Center.

Today is National Depression Screening Day. Sponsored by Psychological Services and University Health Services, this will be the 13th year Kent State has participated in the nationwide event aimed at recognizing and being proactive in treating mental illness.

Participants spend five to 10 minutes completing a form that screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Afterward, they have a chance to meet with on-site clinicians who can give feedback and discuss points of vulnerability.

John Schell, clinical psychologist with University Health Services, said it’s important to recognize symptoms and seek treatment before they begin to affect daily activities.

“The hope is you catch things early enough, and you encourage students to come in and get treatment for it so it doesn’t reach that point and jeopardize their academic performance,” Schell said.

T. John Akamatsu, professor of psychology and director of the Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall, agreed with Schell’s concern.

“Depression is fairly common in college,” Akamatsu said. “Quite a few students who come in for services here come here for depression.”

Schell said depression has many different faces and presents itself in many different ways.

DEFINITIONS OF MENTAL ILLNESSES

• depression: A serious and common disorder of mood that is pervasive, intense and attacks the mind and body at the same time.

• bipolar disorder: A type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The person’s mood usually swings between overly “high” or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between.

• generalized anxiety disorder: Characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more. In addition to chronic worry, generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness and irritability.

• post-traumatic stress disorder: A complex health condition that can develop in response to a traumatic experience – a life-threatening or extremely distressing situation that causes a person to feel intense fear, horror or a sense of helplessness.

Source: Screening for Mental Health

Where to get help on campus

• Psychological Services

University Health Services

Second floor, DeWeese Health Center

(330)672-2487

• Counseling and Human Development Center

325 White Hall

(330)672-2208

• The Psychological Clinic

176 Kent Hall

(330)672-2372

“Students may describe feelings of profound sadness as depression irrespective of whether or not the other symptoms that go along with depression are present,” he said.

“On the other hand, depression may be experienced as a lack of motivation or interest. It could be a loss of pleasure or enjoyment in activities that normally make people happy. For some people, it may manifest as irritability and anger, but there may be an underlying depression.”

More than 90 percent of Kent State students reported being overwhelmed with all they had to do, according to the 2004 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment.

When asked to reflect on the past 12 months:

• 48 percent of Kent State students reported feeling so depressed it was difficult to function.

• 67 percent of Kent State students reported feeling things were hopeless.

• 18 percent of Kent State students reported depression, anxiety or seasonal anxiety disorder affecting their academic performance.

• 15 percent of Kent State students reported seriously considering suicide.

Students are encouraged to come even if they themselves do not have a concern about depression, Schell said.

“Maybe they know someone who’s struggling with these issues, and they just want to pick up some literature to help a friend or know how to approach someone who they’re concerned about,” he said.

More than 500 students, staff and faculty participated in last years event, and about 15 percent of participants had a follow-up appointment with Psychological Services.

Freshmen can also earn health orientation credit for First Year Colloquium by participating in the screening. Participants will also have the chance to win an iPod, two $250 scholarships sponsored by Coca-Cola and other smaller gift certificates.

Schell said young people often have difficulty recognizing depression, and the screening offers participants a chance to identify the problem early before the depression becomes more serious.

“It is also important to help people recognize that lethargy and apathy might actually be caused by depression, rather than just a bump in the academic road.”

Contact health and medicine reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected]