Depression in University

“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare” said Ned Vizzini in his novel ‘It’s kind of a funny story’.

Vizzini was probably describing one of the symptoms of a mental disorder called depression. It is a mental disorder that is still stigmatized with a wide range of misconceptions that include how common it is especially in the field of academia. Despite being in the 21st century, the majority of us still find it a shameful thing to admit having depression or even seek a treatment at all. This could be because of the way that Hollywood movies portray the mentally ill individuals to be weird people with aggressive behaviors and homicidal acts. Media portrays the symptoms of depression as though the illness can be the only way to define the patient. In fact, Dr. Heather Stuart, a professor of Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Health Sciences, stated that “Movies destroy the idea that mental patients are normal people that can recover and become productive members of the society.”

Depression is not only common within the elderly people who might have lost their hope in life but can also develop very significantly in teenagers and therefore hinder their progress in academics. Mariam Elsayed, a journalist, believes there are two reasons why depression can occur in teenagers. One reason is that they are at an age in which their personalities are developing and opinions are being shaped. Elsayed says “…some endure deeper, darker patterns of jumbled thoughts and emotions that linger.” Another reason is the stress of graduating from high school and becoming a university student. During this stage many students feel lost and unable to organize their thoughts in a way that could benefit them. Instead, many loose interest in studies and start to fall apart.

Somehow, schools and universities are to blame because students should be prepared in high school for the circumstances to expect in university. Moreover, universities should have counselling teams to provide guidance tools for the students to help them adapt with the expected educational and social environment. Sometimes taking medication, such as antidepressants, is very essential depending on the severity of the case. Some of you might think “What could possibly lead a university student to get severe depression?” the reasons mentioned above could trigger depression, however what makes it worse is that students do not see how their feelings overlap with the symptoms of depression most of the time. This leads to failure in acknowledging that they are depressed in the first place and therefore do not attempt to go for counselling or seek a treatment. In this case, many of the students attribute their lack of motivation to their courses and end up changing their major. Apart from that, some students do recognize the depression yet feel ashamed to seek therapy. Again, because of the stigma that media has created in our minds.

It is bizarre how we are in an era in which we have the facility and education to fight for women rights, against child abuse and domestic violence yet neglect such important issues just because they seem implicit but they actually have a huge impact on our lives. So, how many of you out there have suffered from depression? How many of you actually are willing to admit it? Share your experience and advice with us and not just that but also let us know how do you expect universities help students with their problems. Your opinion could make a difference.

Mai Elsayed

A Mass Communication alumna from the American University of Sharjah. Loves writing about human related stories and factors that affect our psychological well being such as relationships, love and family.

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