Active Minds: Understanding Depression

Skepticism is undisputable when it comes to recognizing depression. The goal of Active Minds is to reduce the skepticism and stigma surrounding mental illness, so that people are not ashamed to seek help.

The journal of Research on Social Work Practice stated the fact that there is no measurable biological marker or test to identify depression is stated and thus, cannot be soundly established.

Doctors look for red flags when diagnosing patients. According to Project Safety Net’s diagnostic criteria, a person can have major depressive disorder, or an isolated depression episode. The specific symptoms identified for major depressive disorder are depressed mood or irritability, decreased interest or pleasure, significant weight, sleeping pattern, eating,daily activity changes, fatigue, guilt, diminished concentration and suicidal thoughts or actions.
A person may experience one or more of these ‘red flags’ in healthy moderation and not need medical treatment.

A failing exam grade or the flu may induce a sad mood or lack of sleep but thoughts of self-harm are extremely detrimental to one’s health. Of course there is a great deal of controversy about depression.
Studies have been completed that measure the result of chemicals called serotonin reuptake inhibitors on depression symptoms. For example, an article in the Journal of Psychopharmacology stated that a particular serotonin reuptake inhibitor, sertraline, was efficient in a number of studies on patients diagnosed with major depression episodes. A serotonin reuptake inhibitor is a chemical that increases the level of serotonin in the brain. The correlation between the two is positive, but like in a Statistics class, correlation does not mean causation.

However, if the serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be directly linked to the decrease in amount and degree of depression symptoms, then this would be a ‘biological marker’ that critics search for.
The debate of depression being a real diagnosable disease continues as people suffer. However, regardless of whether you believe depression is a problem, people suffer from prolonged periods of depression, and sometimes, these can result in negative life changes, the worst being self-harm. However, there is hope.

Although this depression may not be curable, help is available. Positive correlations have been made between medicine and a decrease in depression symptoms.
Getting plenty of sleep, eating properly and exercising regularly are a few of the natural ways to cope with depression. Eventually, those depressive slumps will become less frequent and severe. It is possible to live a healthy, happy life with some changes that improve your mental health.
There are outside resources available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 1-800-273-8255. At Allegheny College, the number for the counseling center is 814-332-4368. It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If it is after hours, call campus security at 814-332-3357. They will contact a crisis worker from Meadville Mobile Crisis or a counselor from Winslow Health Center on campus.
Active Minds is a relatively new club at Allegheny, but has chapters across the country. It’s goals are to raise awareness about mental health and decrease the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Active Minds meets on Mondays in the Campus Center at 9 p.m. in room 206. All are welcome and encouraged to attend or email Active Minds at [email protected]!