When did it become almost standard to be “depressed” at college? When did Zoloft, Prozac and Lexapro become common rhetoric around college campuses? And, most importantly, when will colleges give this epidemic the attention it deserves?
Nearly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder and, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “75 percent of them experience their first episode of anxiety by the age of 22.” Among Americans from the ages of 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. Over 8 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 years have had serious thoughts of suicide. This is also the age you typically go to college with your future in mind, and with adventure, opportunity and “real world” life just beginning.
Why are college students now, more than ever, being diagnosed with symptoms of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts? What are we to do? Are we to blame the workload, the schedule, social media, drugs and alcohol, homesickness or the rising cost and debt value of our undergraduate career? And if none of those are to blame, do we turn upon ourselves for not being good enough, not working hard enough or not trying hard enough?
Everyone needs to know that there is always someone to talk to, whether it be a friend, a family member or even someone at your university where free or affordable mental health services may be available.
Depression is not singular in itself, but like every person, it is unique in its case. And depression cannot be dealt with alone. If you are reading this, I am one more person in your circle of friends, loved ones and admirers who cares — and who cares so deeply about every single person you impact in this life.
This world can seem exhausting and overwhelming when we feel that we are expected to carry the weight of the universe on our shoulders. We may feel like we have to deal with it all alone because despite not being able to handle it, we feel like we’re too old to be asking for help. We can hold everything in until it consumes us and it affects whether we get out of bed, if we talk to our friends or if we decide to keep fighting.
But if not for your sake, then for mine — and even more so for the memory of Sophie de Tournemire, whom our campus dearly misses — know you are not alone. Know that even in this polarizing time, someone cares and someone is listening. So many ‘someones’ cared for Sophie; we just weren’t able to truly show her how much.
In memory and celebration of Sophie, please come to her candlelight vigil next Tuesday on the Hinman Quad. Come to the 5K on campus next month, which her parents are holding in her honor. Attend, and find yourself surrounded by love, by people who care and by people whose hearts are open. Know that there is so much love to go around. There is at least one someone who you mean the world to.
Hannah Gulko is a junior majoring in human development.