As October slowly turns into November and the days become
shorter… when professors seem to get together and plan their students’ demise
with mid-terms and projects… when homecoming comes to an end, students, faculty
and the average person may become overwhelmed and depressed due to life’s daily
The causes of depression vary based on an individual’s personal
circumstances. It is oftentimes
triggered when a person feels so overwhelmed by multiple circumstances that the
depression begins to interfere with their daily functions and affects the
quality of their life.
However, the general public often defines depression differently. Just because people feel sadness, are upset
or are having a bad day does not mean that they are depressed. Symptoms of depression include fatigue, poor
concentration and motivation, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness,
decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed and thoughts of suicide.
With these symptoms, Dr. Kelsey Richmond, a psychologist at
the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Counseling Center, explains that
depression is different than normal emotional responses to daily life.
“We feel sadness and grief at the end of a relationship,
disappointment and failure when we fail a big test. We cry when we are
hurting. It’s important to differentiate
between expected painful feelings to painful life circumstances and
depression,” Richmond said.
Starting at the end of fall through the winter, seasonal
blues are a common occurrence in people.
While these feelings for many people do not interfere with the quality
of their life, seasonal blues can turn into full depression.
“We live in a very active community – people like to do a
lot of outdoor activities and enjoy the sun and good weather,” Richmond
said. “That can be challenging when the
weather starts turning cold and gloomy. It’s
also a time of year with a lot of stress, especially for students. The academic demands are mounting, and there
is less daylight to study.”
Richmond explained that there are many ways that people can
manage their symptoms without seeking help.
Participating in enjoyable activities is one of the easiest ways to
prevent seasonal blues. Even maintaining
a steady diet and exercising become a vital component in fighting the blues.
“Once people are up and moving, it’s much easier to enjoy
what you are doing. The hardest part of
getting re-engaged in life is starting,” Richmond said. “Research has shown that exercise and healthy
eating improve mood. Our bodies and moods feel better when we are healthy.”
Theatre major Courtney Holly and education major Arielle
Elms both explain how the seasonal blues affect their lives. Their stressors can range from anything to
their personal life to academics. Both
have something that stresses them out this time of the year.
“Around this time of the year, it’s the stress of the
semester. Making sure that grades are
where they need to be. It’s more of a
fear of not growing artistically enough,” Holly said.
For Elms, finding housing for next year, trying to figure
out a manageable schedule of classes for next semester and setting up an
advising appointment are what stresses her out, but she finds a way to stay
positive by resorting to what she enjoys doing.
“Yoga! I also enjoy dancing and watching movies. Both help me relax when I am stressing about
something,” Elms said.
While Holly worries about not growing artistically, her
passion for theatre and desire to grow in the art is ironically what stresses
her out and what drives her to stay positive.
“I work harder, make sure that I feel confident in what I’m
doing, remind myself why I do theatre,” Holly said. “I spend time with people I
love. Call home. Sometimes I just lock myself in one of the practice rooms in
the NFAC and just play the piano until my fingers are too sore. Or I sing.”
While students may have their own way of coping with stress
to bring their spirits up, Richmond urged that those who need help should
simply talk to friends and family.
“Talking aloud can bring about a new perspective and feeling
understood and cared for makes us feel not so isolated and lonely. Talking with
someone you care about who listens is enough to start feeling better,” Richmond
If students do need additional help, the Counseling Center
is available on the third floor of Delzell Hall, or students can call (715)
346-3553 to set up an appointment. It
offers confidential individual and group therapy services and is there to help
students “better understand their concerns and themselves in order to make
“I guess as a word of advice to people : don’t dwell,” Holly
said. “Keep yourself busy and remind
yourself why you’re here doing what you love.”