By Abbey Randall, Staff Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) has seen a rise in students who are depressed, which includes symptoms of low energy, low motivatiMon and a loss of interest in significant parts of their lives.
Doctor Susan Cochran, Medical Director at the Health Center, works with students who need help getting back on their feet from bouts of depression and shifted in the right direction. “Moving past it and helping them change the channel, so to speak,” said Dr. Cochran.
Over the past fifteen years Dr. Cochran has seen a steady rise of students coming to her office for help with depression. Feelings of hopelessness, little appetite or overeating and having trouble sleeping are some symptoms of depression. “Some days, 50% of the students I see are here for depression,” said Dr. Cochran.
Depression can be treated by medication but there are other ways of coping with depression such as exercise, eating right, having good sleeping patterns, and changing lifestyle habits. “Organize their lives a little bit more tightly,” said Dr. Cochran. “They feel more successful and that just starts the spiral back up again so that they start to feel better.”
Other services available on campus include the Center for Student Development (CSD) in Franklin Hall. Elizabeth Jennings, one of the two full-time counselors at CSD, encourages students with depression to seek help from a counselor or visit the Fitness and Recreation Center to participate in some form of exercise. “Getting out of stuck and into drive, even if you are going slowing you are going forward,” said Jennings, “One foot in front of the other.”
Dr. Cochran and the counselors available at CSD work together as a team to help college students be successful in their years at UMF. Faculty on campus often provide beneficial resources for college students as well. “Students have a harder time knowing what to do to ground themselves and ride through the vicissitudes of life,” said Dr. Cochran.
Students suffering with depression may find themselves focusing on the negative events that have happened to them in the past or are happening to them in their day to day experiences, which is why counseling may be a useful tool since it often focuses on positivity. “It [counseling] teaches them about themselves and also teaches them coping skills that they will use for the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Cochran.
For students who are worried that their friends may be depressed, suggestions of speaking with a counselor or making an appointment at the Health Center may be good place to start. Taking the time to go to the Fitness and Recreation Center with depressed friends may also benefit them.
“You rarely will regret going to the fitness center,” said Jennings. “Take steps even if you don’t feel like it, do it.”
With spring being right around the corner, going for walks is a nice way to exercise and get some fresh air. “Drag your friends outside for a long walk, make sure they are eating regularly, and getting enough sleep,” said Dr. Cochran. “Be a good listener and be a witness to their story.”
If anyone as any questions regarding depression they can either visit the UMF Health Center, located in Scott residence Hall or they can also speak with one of the counselors in Franklin Hall.