Students suffering from depression

By Tamara Young - Staff Reporter

It all became too much for Liz Bumpous.

"I have depression and anxiety," said Bumpous, a Highline student. "I have also had prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety."

"I was pregnant with my second child when I realized that I was depressed," Bumpous said. 

"I had prenatal depression very bad," she said. "I didn't want to get up, I cried all the time and I didn't want to eat.

"It's hard to care for a growing baby when you can barely care for yourself," she said.

Her doctor decided to wait until after she gave birth to her child before she was given any medication. This made recovery difficult afterwards because she was then dealing with postpartum depression as well, she said.

"Most people talk about postpartum depression, but very few mention prenatal depression," Bumpous said. 

"With my youngest, I was put on antidepressants at five months pregnant, which helped with the postnatal depression afterward," Bumpous said.

Bumpous is not alone. 

In King County, 21 percent of adults will be diagnosed with depression in their lifetime, said Melissa Glenn, licensed mental health counselor and clinical services director for Valley Cities Counseling in Federal Way.

In the last 12 months, 27 percent of youth have reported depression, 16 percent admitted that they have experienced suicidal thoughts, and 7 percent have attempted suicide, Glenn said.

Some things that are specific to depression are a feeling of sadness or hopelessness, Glenn said.

Other factors that a person can watch for is decreased motivation, change in appetite and isolation from family and friends, Glenn said. In severe cases of depression there may be a preoccupation with death and dying or a feeling of worthlessness.

"Talking about depression with a person whose behavior has changed by saying 'I have noticed these things about you, are you're OK?'" Glenn said. 

"I see that you don't feel like yourself. Could we look at resources to help you?" Glenn said.

This opens the conversation up for the individual who may be depressed, she said.

Another key way to help a person you suspect is depressed is to help them find professional help, Glenn said. There are many resources available to people when they need support to help them through depression. 

Many services are available for those who are depressed. Veterans can contact any number on the list, call the VA hospital or call Valley Cities, she said. 

Highline counseling services are available to students for free in Building 6, said Dr. Gloria Koepping, Highline counseling psychologist. 

Students may notice that a person is not engaged in life, they appear to be withdrawn, or they may speak of wanting to harm them self, Dr. Koepping said. 

"If you are trying to help someone who you think is depressed, say: Let me walk you to the counseling office," Dr. Koepping said. 

Not all depression is the same, she said. Those who are depressed need to find a way to keep hope in their life.

People need to notice what's going on with others, say something or get someone to help them with that situation, she said.

"Depression cannot be fixed overnight," Dr. Koepping said. "Give them something positive to refocus on. We can chip away at it to correct their focus."

Other places to receive help is at your primary care doctor or the hospital, Melissa Glenn said.

Welfare checks are another way that someone can help a friend or family member out if they have not heard from them in a while, she said.

A person has the option to call the police as well, to do a welfare check on a person if they suspect they are depressed, Glenn said. Particularly if that person has a history of depression, may have attempted suicide, or if they have isolated themselves from those who care. 

In severe cases, the police may enter the home to check on the person, she said.

"When a person is depressed their emotions may shatter if they do not feel like they have support," said Sam Bartlett, a Highline student.

"Do not tell the person that everything will be OK," Bartlett said. "This is not a very supportive statement to a person who feels depressed."

"Depression is a dark place," said another Highline student, who asked to remain anonymous. "Thank God for the suicide hotline for veterans, who helped me to get the help I needed."

Meanwhile Bumpous has found ways to cope. 

"I've sought counseling, but that didn't really work for me. I have been on several different medications. Some work better than others," Bumpous said.

"I am on medication to treat depression which is under control," Bumpous said.

"To help with my depression I can read a book and refocus my stress," she said.

"Also I can talk with my husband who is supportive and understands how I feel," she said. "He gives me time to read, or go shopping without our children. He gives me a break to calm down and just relax."

"Having people that understand what I'm going through has helped me the most," she said.

"Recognizing depression can be really hard," Bumpous said. People exhibit in a lot of different ways. 

"If I knew someone was struggling with depression I would offer to listen to them and try to be a support," she said. "Often they just need someone to hear them and not try to tell them that everything will be OK."

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