Depression & Anxiety
If you are experiencing difficulties with depression or anxiety, we recommend contacting Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) by calling 202-687-6985. Health Education Services does not specifically address issues surrounding depression and anxiety outside the context of their associations with sexual assault, relationship violence, substance use, and eating disorders, but since these are some of the most common mental health concerns faced by college students, and since they often occur with other health concerns, we have provided information about signs, symptoms, and effects.
For helpful resources, visit CAPS Resources page. There you can find tips, information, videos, and even coloring pages for depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
Depression often consists of prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or despair, outside the realm of feelings of sadness during times of loss, difficult transition/adjustment, or disappointment. Some also experience depression as feelings of apathy, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, or an inability to feel anything at all. Other common symptoms can include sleep issues, changes in appetite (increase or decrease), issues with concentration, lack of motivation, and withdrawal from social networks and activities. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) lists some other commons signs of depression:
- Persistent emotions of sadness, anxiety, “emptiness,” hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
- Loss of interest/pleasure in hobbies, activities, sex
- Feelings of fatigue, decreased energy, slowing down
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Physical symptoms including difficulty sleeping (or excessive sleeping), low appetite (or increased appetite), weight gain (or weight loss), headaches, digestive disorders, inexplicable pain
- Thoughts of death and suicide
- Restlessness and irritability
We all experience some of these symptoms for short periods when we’re going through a difficult time, but when these symptoms begin to interfere with your everyday functioning (health, social and academic endeavors, enjoyment of life), it’s important to seek support. If you suspect you might be suffering from depression, CAPS provides a free online screening for mental health available to all students, faculty, and staff. From the Screening for Mental Health Online Screening Program page, select what kind of screening you’d like to complete. The results of this questionnaire do not, however, stand in for a professional diagnosis or treatment. If you’re worried about your mental health, share the results of this self-screening exercise with a mental health professional.
Many people feel anxiety in the form of a temporary worry or fear about a task or challenge that seems overwhelming or outside of their control (like a big exam). Anxiety can begin to have a negative impact, however, when it becomes prolonged. It can take the form of jitteriness (like the feeling of drinking too much coffee), nervousness, an increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and sweating. Symptoms of long-term anxiety can include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite, or increased “emotional eating”
- Social isolation or withdrawal
Anxiety can begin to interfere with your ability to live your daily life or carry out everyday tasks. If you feel like your anxiety is starting to affect your quality of life, CAPS provides a free online screening for mental health available to all students, faculty, and staff. From the Screening for Mental Health Online Screening Program page, select what kind of screening you’d like to complete. This, however, does not stand in for speaking with a mental health professional, and you should still follow up by making an appointment to talk with someone. Counselors can help identify the stressors and thought patterns that are contributing to your anxiety and provide techniques for mitigating and managing your body’s response to anxiety.
To learn more about anxiety, depression, and other common mental health concerns, you can visit the websites of some of the following trusted resources: