Dear Barb – Am I Depressed?

Dear Barb:

I am a 24-year-old AU student in my final year. Lately I’ve been finding it difficult to feel enthusiastic about anything. When friends call wanting me to go out and party I find myself making excuses. I’d rather just stay home and watch TV. I’m starting to wonder if maybe I am depressed. What do you think?

Blake in B.C.

Good to hear from you Blake. Depression is one of the fastest growing maladies of our time. In fact 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men can expect to be diagnosed with depression in their lifetime. The fact that you took the time to write is a good sign. You are not hiding your head in the sand; you realize that you are not immune to depression.

I see, Blake, that you are getting ready to graduate, which means you are about to enter a new phase of your life. I’m assuming you are planning on starting your career, as you refer to this your last year of school. Along with any lifestyle change comes stress, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Have you ever heard the saying “change is good?” As well, along with change comes growth. Each hurdle that we overcome in life, gives us confidence in our abilities, thus raising our self-esteem.

The causes of depression are varied. It may be biological in nature resulting in a chemical imbalance in the brain, or depression could be the result of a stressful or traumatic event in our lives. For example, suffering from a chronic illness, such as cancer, experiencing the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, or anything that strongly influences the direction of ones life has the potential to lead to depression. In addition, some people may not have learned efficient ways of dealing with stress in their family of origin. Thus, they may have difficulty coping when faced with the challenges of life.

Everyone has days where they feel down or not interested in doing their regular activities. Having these feelings for a few days or even a week doesn’t mean you are depressed. It is probably your body’s way of telling you to slow down, perhaps indicating a need to reassess your direction.

However if these feelings are ongoing and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, loss of appetite, an inability to concentrate, or thoughts of suicide, they could suggest depression. If you are experiencing any of these feelings on a consistent basis I would advise you to speak to your family doctor who can refer you for treatment.

Today there are various options available for managing depression. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of; it is an illness and can be treated. Usually a combination of treatments will be utilized. For example, drug therapy and /or individual or group counseling are some options. The choice of treatments should be decided between you and your family physician.

Again Blake, thanks for writing and best of luck with your future endeavors.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.