The Student Who May Be Depressed

Depression is a common mental health problem that varies in severity and duration.

In its less serious form, depression is a temporary reaction to loss, stress or life challenges. It can be alleviated through the passage of time and/or the natural healing effects of social support, daily routines and simple coping strategies like distraction and exercise.


Symptoms of depression can include:


  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness
  • A deep sense of sadness
  • An inability to experience pleasure
  • Irregular eating and sleeping
  • Difficulties with concentration, memory, and decision-making
  • Fatigue and social withdrawal

Sometimes depression includes irritation, anxiety and anger.

In its most serious form, depression can be accompanied by self-destructive thoughts and intentions as a way to escape from the emotional pain.

Research shows that depression can be highly responsive to both psychotherapy and medication.


  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Listen carefully, be supportive, and express your concern about the student.
  • Consult with Counseling and Psychological Services (828.227.7469) on how to support the student.
  • Ask if he/she has thoughts of suicide. If so, do not leave the student alone. Walk him/her over to Counseling and Psychological Services. If it is after 5:00pm, or on the weekend, access emergency services by calling 828.227.8911.
  • If you feel overwhelmed or unprepared to help a depressed student, call the Office of Student Affairs (828.227.7234), which will arrange a meeting with the student.


  • Downplaying the situation.
  • Arguing with the student or disputing that the student is feeling depressed.
  • Providing too much information for the student to process.
  • Expecting the student to stop feeling depressed without intervention.
  • Assuming others know about the student’s depression.

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