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Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but clinical depression is much more than just sadness.

Depression engulfs a person’s day-to-day life, interfering with the ability to study, work, eat, sleep and have fun. Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting. Depression is considered more severe when it interferes with the person’s ability to function. Without treatment, it can last weeks, months, even years.

Signs of depression: agitation; anxiety; anger; inconsistent class or work attendance; stops going out with friends and/or roommates; recurrent thoughts of destruction; preoccupation with death; and some have thoughts of suicide (See “Suicide” section for more information.) Fortunately, depression responds to treatment, with 80 to 90 % of those treated showing improvement.

  • When you observe a depressed person:

    1. Seek assistance. The following resources are available to help you.

    2. Submit a CARE Report.

    Submit a CARE Report

  • DO

    • See the person in private when possible.
    • Mention that you’ve noticed they appear to be feeling down and that you want to help.
    • Encourage the person to talk about their feelings.
    • Listen closely to what the person is sharing.
    • Be supportive. Express your concern about the situation.
    • Be directive and concise about an action plan.
    • Initiate the action plan (e.g., having the person schedule a counseling appointment).


    • Ignore the person.
    • Minimize the situation (e.g., by saying “everything will be better tomorrow”).
    • Argue with the person or chastise them for poor/incomplete work.
    • Provide too much information for the student to process and retain.
    • Expect the student to stop feeling depressed without some form of intervention.
    • Be afraid to ask whether the person is suicidal if you suspect the possibility.

    Submit a CARE Report

    Submit a CARE Report