With the hope of providing treatment in mind, a staff psychologist, along with Tuttleman Counseling Services, coordinated free and anonymous depression screenings for students last week.
“Long term untreated depression puts you at a higher risk for suicide,” said Denise Walton, who coordinated the screening for Temple’s involvement with National Depression Screenings Day on Thursday, Oct. 5. “Depression is a very treatable mental illness.”
Each year 17 to 20 million people develop or experience depression. Of these numbers, 3 to 5 percent, or 1 million people, are teenagers.
The daylong screenings held last Thursday in Tuttleman Learning Center were meant to reach out to the maximum number of students. Walton said 25 students stopped to answer the depression questionnaire, which took about 10 minutes to fill out. The questionnaire consisted of 10 questions to identify depression symptoms and two manic-depressive illness questions.
The results from the questionnaire “do not make a diagnosis, but instead screens for depression,” Walton said. “The results tell whether the patient is likely, unlikely or very likely to have depression.”
Walton said, “Feelings of sadness or depression for two weeks or more without a letup are signs you should seek treatment.”
According to Walton, other signs to look for “are feelings that you can’t get out of bed, feelings that interfere with daily routines, or withdrawn feelings from friends.”
These are all signs of depression and that treatment should be sought, she said.
Eighty-four percent of the students answering the questionnaire were diagnosed with depression. They were referred to Tuttleman Counseling Services (TCS) for psychological help.
“Unfortunately, the numbers show a little bit of an increase from last year,” Walton said.
TCS representatives manned two tables offering depression and suicide information inside the lobby of the Tuttleman Learning Center. Although only 25 students participated in the screening, educational material was handed out for students to use as informational resources.
“(That’s) a good sign,” Walton said. “All material went somewhere.”
Suicide and depression are closely linked. Each year more than 2,000 teenagers commit suicide.
“Since the 1950s, there has been a 300 percent increase in the number of teenage suicides,” Walton said.
Experts are still determining reasons for such large and growing numbers, but in most cases it has been partly due to long untreated battles of depression, she said.
“With the population size of Temple, it can be expected that two suicides a year will occur,” Walton said.
Students who suspect friends of contemplating suicide are encouraged to walk them to the Counseling Center, located in the lower level of Sullivan Hall. Doing this helps ease fears of getting help.
In most cases, short-term treatment of eight therapy sessions will help students beat their battles with depression.
Walton reported that one student who was tested last year at the free screenings came back to thank Counseling Services for the free treatment she received after being diagnosed as depressed.
“Treatment is very effective,” Walton said.
For people experiencing symptoms of depression, Tuttleman Counseling servies can be reached at (215) 204-7276 to schedule an appointment. Hours are by appointment only, Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., except in emergency cases.