Last reviewed: 12/22/2022

While many people experience brief periods of sadness, these feelings are most often expectable reactions to the struggles and disappointments we all occasionally confront, and tend to get better over a relatively brief period of time.

By contrast, someone with depression may experience feelings of extreme sadness, despair, or emptiness that continue for several weeks or longer. Depressed individuals often feel helpless and hopeless and may suffer from a sense of worthlessness and self-blame.

People who are depressed may become overwhelmed and exhausted and stop participating in things they usually enjoy.  They may withdraw from friends and lose interest in academic commitments. Even eating and sleeping patterns can change. 

Common Symptoms of Depression

  • Avoiding social activities or not appearing to enjoy these activities
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep; sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating or finding that previously manageable tasks are now difficult
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Loss of self-worth
  • Inability to control negative thoughts
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Feeling irritable or easily frustrated
  • Consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • Having thoughts that life is not worth living
  • Depression varies from person to person. 

Experiencing a few of the symptoms described above does not necessarily imply you are clinically depressed, but if you are experiencing a cluster of these symptoms more days than not in an ongoing way, and they cause you a good deal of distress or interfere with your functioning , it may be that you are dealing with depression. Before these symptoms become overwhelming, it’s time to seek help.


  • Affects people from ALL identities
  • Affects a significant percentage of the population—it’s a common problem, not one that should cause embarrassment.
  • Acute depressive episodes are more frequent among 18-29 year olds than among most other age groups
  • Along with anxiety, is one of the most common reasons students go to CPS
  • Is treatable

Depression and Suicide

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide may be a serious symptom of depression or another significant psychiatric problem, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not only a warning sign that the person is at risk of suicide: it's a way of expressing desperation and a need for help.

Getting Help

Talk with a professional experienced in helping individuals struggling with depression. Support may include individual or group counseling, among other strategies. 

The Counseling and Psychological Services team in Columbia Health comprises psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers available to provide support through scheduled appointments, urgent concerns drop-in, problem-solving/coping skills drop-in, or support spaces.