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It’s September now, and many college students are well into their semester routines. For most students, concerns about homework, living arrangements, and meeting new friends are just a part of the collegiate experience. Some students, however, have a very difficult time coping with their new surroundings. Unfortunately, college students can be particularly vulnerable to depression.

Depression is a serious illness that can manifest itself in a number of ways. Chronic depression, for instance, is a long-lasting condition that is common in individuals with a family history of depression. Individuals can experience depression only (a condition known as unipolar depression) or in combination with periods of elation or other types of mood swings (often called bipolar disorder). The symptoms of depression can include sadness, anxiety, inability to sleep, oversleeping, loss of energy or enjoyment, thoughts of death, and even physical changes such as weight fluctuation. The onset can be gradual or sudden.

College students, especially women, face a high risk of experiencing some form of depression. As these young adults move into a new environment and face major changes to their lifestyle, feelings of loneliness and anxiety can gradually evolve into serious depression. Even worse, the telltale signs of serious depression might go unnoticed or be dismissed by the individual and his or her friends and family. Some studies have suggested that as many as 14% of college students experience depression, and as many as half of those students are victims of “major” depression.

College can and should be a fun and fulfilling time. Despite this fact, many students will face the fight of their lives against an unseen and often misunderstood killer. Depression can have tragic consequences, but there are ways to get help. If you or someone you know might be suffering from depression, seek help immediately.

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