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the big adjustment
a freshman here at
and I'm entering
my second semester of
college. I guess people would say
lVe adjusted to college life, but I
certainly don't feel that way.
Classes are going okay. I hate
four of my TAs, but I like the
one professor 1 have. Too bad I
only know his voice through a
loudspeaker ajid his face from 30
rows back in Hamilton 100.
Gyrft class is terrible. I jump
around to outdated Top 40 music
in my little gray Fetzer outfit
with all these skinny little
I know some of the people In
my classes, even though I met
most of them during weekends
last semester while I wasn't all
that alert, if you know what I
mean. But I wouldn't say I have
any friends in class with me. I
take notes when I can concen
trate. Otherwise I daydream,
sleep or count all the girls in the
class that are prettier than I am.
Sometimes I just don't bother to
go. After last semester's grades I
swore I wouldn't do that, but you
know those 8 o'clocks will kill
Before Christmas I looked for
ward to going home. Now my
Seniors: The 'real
world' looms ahead
Mere it is, January of my
senior year in college. I
should be anxiously
awaiting my last Spring Break
and my last exams ever. But the
truth is, picturing myself in a
Carolina blue graduation gown
makes me nauseated.
My grades aren't good enough
to get me anywhere. I've sent my
resume many places, only to get
the old "We appreciate your
interest in our company, but . . ."
letters. My girlfriend recently
informed me that she wanted to
graduate and start her career,
unattached to any college boy
friend. Funny, she didn't talk like
that two years ago.
So here I am, a senior. Finally,
no more term papers due. No
more three-hour lines at drop
add. No more frat parties. No
Even though I left home to go
to college, I knew Mom and Dad
would always be there to bail me
out of trouble. But now I'm leav
ing college to enter life, real life.
And they won't be behind me
with the checkbook anymore.
My friends are getting job
Compiled by Cheryl Allen,
friends at home are busy with
their new lives, and my family
seems to be doing just fine with
out me. My old boyfriend
obviously did great without me,
judging by the "it's time to
expand our horizons" talk.
My best friend here has fallen
head over heels in love with some
junior. The only guys that ask me
out are nerds. Sometimes I do
meet really foxy guys at parties;
they'll talk to me about going out
sometime, and then 111 find out
later they were just beergoggled
and wanted to go home with
Going out depresses me. Stay
ing in is worse. I sit in the Pit
between classes, hoping to see
someone I know. But people
smile and wave, say hello and
keep walking. Couples disgust
I really hope I snap out of this.
Maybe this is what they call the
freshman blues. I don't want to
bother my friends with my com
plaining we're not really that
close anyway. I lie awake at
night, wondering if I belong on a
couch, spilling my guts to some
shrink. I don't know, and at this
point I just dont care.
offers from all over the country,
and some are receiving accep
tance letters from the graduate
schools they have talked about
for four years. Others are plan
ning their weddings isn't that
The thought of being one of
those graduates who hangs
around campus for lack of any
thing better to do scares me. The
future scares me. I am beginning
to wonder if any of it really mat
And what about a post-college
social life? How am I going to
meet people? It's not like having
hundreds of new people to meet
every semester. Somehow I can't
picture myself frequenting singles
So where do I go from here?
When does it get a little easier?
Are there other people out there
who feel the same, or am I the
only one left reeling, having no
clue about my future? I feel so
overwhelmed. For someone who
has always had things under con
trol, that feeling is unnerving. I
just wish there were answers.
based on student Interviews.
By CHERYL ALLEN
I he death of a pet, exams, a
breakup or just a rainy day
almost anything can cause a
mood swing. But if a low mood per
sists, it could result in serious
depression, requiring professional
What is depression?
Depression is a condition that
mainly manifests itself through a
feeling of hopelessness, according to
Cecy Ussier, clinical social worker at
Student Health Service (SHS). "The
symptoms may come in different
combinations," she said. "Having
one may not be cause for concern,
but more than one may raise a red
Symptoms include an inability to
perform up to one's typical stand
ard, loss of appetite, difficulty sleep
ing, inability to concentrate, anti
sociability, and a lack of interest in
anything that was previously inter
esting, said Dr. Myron Liptzin, psy
chiatrist in the mental health div
ision of SHS.
These symptoms may lead to one
of the various types of clinical
depression. A major depression epi
sode is severe depression, lasting at
least two weeks and showing many
of the symptoms, according to
Linda Craighead, a doctor of psy
chology at UNC. Dysthymia is a
more long-term depression in which
the patient has shown some of the
signs over the last couple of years.
Other types of depression include
bipolar disorder, or manic depres
siveness, which consists of mood
cycles ranging from euphoria to
serious depression. And the seasonal
affective disorder is a depression
caused by a person's response to
light levels, but it is more prevalent
in areas with harsher climates than
North Carolina, Craighead said.
For college students, the most
prevalent type of depression is not a
type of clinical depression it is an
adjustment disorder, Craighead said,
"It still feels as bad for the person,
she said. "In this case students get
depressed for a specific reason."
What causes depression?
The causes of depression are
numerous, just as the types are. In
some cases, the person may have a
biological tendency toward being
"If an individual feels like he or she
has been feeling hopeless for a long
time, it's a signal to get in touch with a
Cecy Ussier, a clinical social
worker at Student Health Services
Sometimes friends can do
By MYRNA MILLER
Assistant Features Editor
eeking counsel should be the
.main option for students feel
'ing serious depression. But
many have found they can deal with
cases of mild depression more effec
tively on their own.
Talking with other people is a
popular solution, but this takes
many different forms. Nikki Taylor,
a senior psychology major from
Raleigh said she liked to get out of
Chapel Hill when she was depressed.
"I go to ECU and party with my
friends," she said.
Cathy Cameron, a freshman jour
nalism major from Fayetteville, said
she liked to be with other people to
talk about things other than her
problems. "I talk about everything
i lie is a
depressed, perhaps suffering from a
chemical or hormonal imbalance in
the brain, Liptzin said.
"But more common are those
depressing episodes, which are fairly
short in duration . . . and have to do
with assaults on self-esteem and
losses," Liptzin said.
"A woman may have been raped
and not acknowledge it to herself,"
Liptzin said. "A girl may have gone
to a party and drunk too much and
been pushed sexually, assaulted or
touched in ways she didn't want.
Later she may blame herself. Unless
things like this are discussed with a
professional, they can become an
ongoing irritant. It can affect the
way you see yourself."
Many students base their self
esteem on making good grades,
being well-liked and having a good
dating relationship, Liptzin said. .
Students engage in competition with
others and with the ideal built up in
their own minds, which can be an
unrealistically high standard.
"The freshman and senior years
are the two prime years for stress
and depression," said Susan Chap
pell, coordinator pf the Wellness
Resource Center. The transition to
college can be a factor in depression
for freshmen, she said, while seniors
have to worry about graduation,
leaving school and finding a job.
Who is susceptible?
Six percent of the population
experiences depression during any
given six-month period, and 25 per
cent will experience at least one
serious depression episode in their
lifetime, according to the National
Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Females are more susceptible, as
18 percent to 23 percent of females
will experience a depressive episode
during their lives, while only 8 per
cent to 1 1 percent of males will,
Craighead said. Also, the age of
onset is decreasing in the past the
average age for a person to become
depressed was 36, she said. Now the
age is 25.
No type of student is more sus
ceptible to depression than any
other, said Marcia Harris, director
of University Career Planning and
Placement Services. "So much
depends on the inner strength of the
student," she said. "Some are just
better able to cope."
Dane Hewett, a resident assistant
but what's wrong with me," she said.
"I especially like to talk about other
people's problems because it makes
me worry about their problems and
forget about mine."
But some students, such as Ashley
Ainsworth, a freshman computer
science major from Rocky Mount,
enjoy talking about their own prob
lems with their friends.
"When I am depressed I make a
lot of long-distance phone calls," she
said. "I talk to my friends who are
away from the situation and can
give me objective advice."
Talking can help, but sometimes a
friend who can't talk will ease
depression. Some students turn to
their pets for comfort.
Carmen Westbrook, a junior radi
The Daily Tar
"The freshman and senior years are
the two prime years for depression"
Susan Chappell, coordinator of the
Wellness Resource Center
and a senior from Clemmons, said
all college students have gone
through stress and changes. "Even
the most popular students put a lot
of pressure on themselves, so it's not
necessarily the shy people (who get
depressed)," she said.
But Liptzin said he believed that
people are more susceptible to
depression if they are inclined to be
perfectionists. "If their self-esteem is
based on how they perform in a
whole variety of parameters
socially, academically, athletically
and they cannot tolerate any
performance less than what they
judge to be ideal, they can then
engage in a variety of self-defeating
and irrational thoughts," he said.
One male student, who has had
problems with depression, said
many s"erfously depressed students
will never admit it to themselves.
They convince themselves it is a
passing thing and never do anything
about it, he said.
Where to find help
Often it helps to talk with a
friend, Ussier said. Talking about
being depressed may help a person
understand why he feels that way,
One male senior experiencing
depression said his friends helped
him a lot because they understood
his situation and were experiencing
But friends may not be able to
help with more serious problems.
Another senior male, who is now
seeing a therapist at Student Mental
Health, said he expressed suicidal
thoughts to a friend, and she
"freaked out" and told him to stop
talking about it.
Many facilities at the University
are available for students if they
don't feel comfortable talking to
their friends, or if they feel their
problem is too severe. Resident
Assistants (RAs), Area Directors,
career planning counselors, and clin
ical social workers, psychologists
and psychiatrists at Student Health
Service can all help.
Often it is difficult to distinguish
between passing unhappiness and
serious depression. "A person needs
to be his own monitor," Ussier said.
"He needs to ask himself, 'On a scale
of one to 100, where am I?' People
move up and down and all around
on that scale.
"If an individual feels like he or
she has been feeling hopeless for a
ology major from Raleigh, said her
dog is often her best friend. "I like
to walk my dog when I'm having
problems because he's just so cute
and loyal that he makes me forget
about my problems."
Other students said they preferred
to be alone to solve their problems.
Shawn Watson, a sophomore from
Salisbury, voiced the opinion of
many students when he said his
release was music. "I listen to some
kind of soothing music by myself,
with headphones," he said.
, Mark White, a junior pharmacy
major from Ormond Beach, Fla.,
also said he liked to be alone with
his problems. He sometimes hits ten
nis balls against the backboard as
hard as he can. "Sometimes I also
HeelTuesday, January 31, 19395
long time, it's a signal to get in
touch with a professional," said
But a student who has been feel
ing down for just a week may find it
helpful to come by Student Mental
Health and be evaluated, Liptzin
said. About 80 percent of the people
who need counseling never receive
it, according to NIMH.
"Our counseling is necessarily
brief," Liptzin said. "But we find
that that is all students want or
Two main things to consider in
determining if a person's problems
warrant professional help are the
duration of the depression and if the
student has given evidence of sui
cidal thoughts, Craighead said.
"Even passing suicidal verbalizations
suggest that they should see a
One freshman male who has
experienced depression said he
would not go to SHS because a pro
fessional wouldn't be able to tell him
anything he didn't already know
The male, who is now being coun
seled, said some of the need for pro
fessional help would be alleviated if
friends would take the time to notice
if a person was upset. But the objec
tivity of the therapists keeps him
returning to SHS, he added.
A freshman female said she relied
on her friends because RAs and
other counselors may not be as
Counselors in Student Mental
Health see about 6 percent to 7 per
cent of the student body per year,
approximately 1,800 students, Lipt
zin said. Some of those students just
want to talk and others have been
admitted to the hospital for attempt
ing suicide. Recently, counselors
have seen six students for serious
depression, some being admitted for
A person feeling depressed should
seek help to understand what type
of depression it is. Biological depres
sion can be treated with medication,
helping the person recover more
"Even serious depressing illnesses
are self-limited," Liptzin said. "In
anywhere from six months to a year,
the sun rises again, and one day
people get up and feel better." In the
meantime people can be treated with
medication to help sleep or recover
their appetite, he said. And counsel
ing sessions can help them face the
go to the mall by myself and buy
something I really dont need," he
Regardless of how one student
handles depression, each student
said they had to find a way that
worked for him or her. Masha
Halpern, an RTVMP major from
New Haven, Conn., said she saw a
psychologist at one time, but now
felt able to work things out with her
friends or on her own. Several stu
dents said they knew that everybody
should realize that even though
depression may last a long time, it
will eventually end.
"I think about all the good things
in the world and realize that what is
depressing me wont last forever,"