If you (or anyone you know) have felt sad or blue for more than two weeks, clinical depression may be the cause. Depression is a mood disorder that affects about 20% of the population at some time in their lives. It is not a character weakness or flaw, but instead an illness that can be successfully treated, usually with a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Sometimes people are not consciously aware of being depressed. They may feel physically sick, slowed down and achy, and/or not interested in food or sex.  They may also withdraw socially and emotionally. 

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Arguments with family
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Feeling physically slowed down or achy
  • Feeling sad, blue, or tearful
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Irritability, moodiness, and social isolation
  • Less interest in sex
  • Loss of the ability to feel pleasure
  • Loss of energy
  • Neglect of previously enjoyable activities
  • Pessimistic, negative, and repetitive thinking
  • Poor concentration/loss of motivation
  • Presence of guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide

What should you do if you or someone you know appears depressed?

If you have four or more of these symptoms, you might benefit from talking to your health care provider and/or someone at the Faculty Staff Assistance Office.

If it’s a family member who appears depressed, you might express concern and discuss with them what to do.  You may open a conversation by observing their behavior, their facial expression and their words and then express your concern.  For example, “You have looked sad lately and I am worried about you. “

Depression in a colleague at work is more complicated.  You might contact the Faculty Staff Assistance Office to discuss the your specific concern and to develop a careful plan to address your concerns for yourself or a work colleague.