Counselors discuss depression symptoms

Everyone suffers from a bad day now and again, but bad days that linger on for weeks are a sign of depression.

October is Depression Awareness Month. One in 10 Americans suffer from depression at one point in their lives, and Alabama is one of seven states where depression among adults is highest, according to

Depression is one of the more common complaints we have at Student Counseling Services, said Director Lynne Martin.

“Depression is an illness,” she said. “The best way to describe it is to think of your brain as an organ no different from your kidney or heart. The brain gets sick just like these organs.”

There are different causes of depression, said Shoals Counseling Licensed Professional Counselor Mikki Lawrence.

“Some people can’t deal with certain events in their lives well, and they don’t get help with dealing with these emotions,” she said. “Depression can come from our emotions or our physical being.”

It is important to know the symptoms and pay attention to how long they last, Martin said.

“If someone has a sad mood, lost their motivation for going to class, has no energy, and this lasts for at least two weeks, then this is a sign of depression,” she said.

Some people have been depressed once in awhile, but others suffer from depression, said Junior Kayla Braidfoot.

“It’s when you see yourself in this hole that you can never climb out of,” she said.

“There’s always an end in sight, but you’re so far in that you can’t see your way out.”

There are different types of depression, Lawrence said. Major depression that interferes with daily life, postpartum depression that often affects new mothers and Seasonal Affective Disorder that occurs during the winter, are just a few.

When a person is having sad, empty feelings which will not go away, it is time to seek help, she said.

Depression affects those who are close to the person as well, said freshman Lila Walker.

“It’s heartbreaking to be around them,” she said. “It’s not as if they’re always depressed. They get depressed randomly, and they don’t know how to fix it.”

Martin said being a good listener is the key to helping a friend suffering from depression.

“If you find out they are having suicidal thoughts, then we need to see them right away,” she said. “That’s not a friend-to-friend intervention. A friend needs to be familiar with the symptoms, and they can come to us and get some information or help.”

Senior Khari Bolden said he feels empathy toward those who suffer from depression, and he tries to find a way to help.

It’s important for people to be aware of depression, Lawrence said.

“It affects the quality of your life,” she said. We often feel depressed at times, but it’s not a normal part of life.”

Depression hides a person’s true personality, Bolden said.

“I see depression as a state of mind where you feel like you’re trapped, and you’re not really yourself,” he said. “It’s when you can’t find happiness even when you surround yourself with your friends.”

Have someone suffering from depression make a list of the things they are thankful for, Walker said.

“It really helps them get their thoughts on a different path,” she said.

Braidfoot said she tries to offer hope to those suffering depression.

“There will always be a brighter day,” she said. “Just because you’re in this state now, you might not be there two weeks from now or two months from now. There’s always going to be a way to get out of it.”