October 01, 2010

Depression screenings offered to SIUC community

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Depression and anxiety are common problems for people of all ages, including college students. In conjunction with National Depression Screening Day, Southern Illinois University Carbondale is offering free, confidential depression and anxiety disorders screenings on Thursday, Oct. 7.

Students, faculty and staff at SIUC are welcome to participate in the free screenings from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Student Center. Tables in the south hallway will offer the screening by members of the SIUC Student Health Center’s Wellness Center staff. It takes just a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire. Those who stop by can get a one-on-one, confidential consultation and also pick up helpful information.

The Wellness Center also offers online depression screening any time. Visit the website at www.shc.siuc.edu. Click on the “wellness” link and then on “online screening.” Those taking the screening online will get information about resources available on campus and in the community to help.

Depression and anxiety are the most common and yet the most treatable mental health issues among college students, according to Barb Elam, Wellness Center interim assistant director. A national college health survey found nearly half of all college students report feeling so depressed they can barely function. Symptoms of depression include feeling inadequate, sad and discouraged, losing interest in things that previously interested you, experiencing low energy and difficulty making decisions, having problems with appetite or sleeping, and being overly self-critical.

There is a variety of anxiety disorders too and these can at times adversely affect a person’s ability to function.

Some people experience suicidal thoughts as well. Possible suicide warning signals include feelings of hopelessness, reckless actions, risky behaviors, feeling trapped, increasing alcohol or drug use, sleep problems, agitation, withdrawing from others and having thoughts or feelings about harming yourself or talking about doing so.

Elam said it’s very important to take care of depression and anxiety before the problem becomes severe. There are a number of resources on the SIUC campus to help, including the Counseling Center. Students can call 618/453-5371 to schedule an appointment between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. In emergency or urgent situations, walk-in visits are encouraged. After hours, go to the local emergency room or contact the national suicide prevention hotline at 800/273-TALK.

For more information about the depression and anxiety screenings or the Wellness Center and services it offers, visit the website at www.shc.siu.edu and click on wellness or call 618/536-4441.