Recognizing depression

Introduction

Feelings of depression or anxiety are not uncommon in vet school. It may be most common in the second-year but can hit at any time. Recognizing the signs and symptoms in yourself or others is extremely important for your health and wellness.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Loss of motivation
  • Problems concentrating
  • Feelings of self-doubt and despair
  • Apathy about vet school or other things that were important to you
  • A change in appetite, weight gain, and/or weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping or the desire to always sleep
  • Inability to feel joy in any aspect of your life
  • Not being able to identify anything you are looking forward to
  • A gross imbalance in your life between what you are giving and what you are getting back
  • a MN story

Other Developments that Might Represent a Problem

  • A failing marriage
  • Friends not calling anymore
  • Inability to balance family responsibilities with school
  • Unbearable stress about upcoming exams
  • Failing courses
  • Difficulty with professionalism or attitude
  • Unconnected with any classmates
  • Use of drugs or alcohol

What to do

Depression is a serious but common condition and confidential treatment and counseling is available. There may also be a hereditary component. If you or a colleague suffer from these symptoms, please ask for help. The Academic and Student Affairs office knows the best route forward for students in each year of the program.

People I Can Talk to:

  • Crisis hot line (for yourself or someone else): (612)-301-4673
  • Text “UMN” to 61222
  • Student counseling services: (612) 624-3323
  • Boynton Mental health clinic: (612) 624-1444
  • Behavioral Consultation Team: (612) 626-3030
  • Learn to Live offers free, 100% confidential online programs for stress, anxiety and worry, depression and social anxiety. Visit https://www.learntolive.com/partners and enter the code UMN for access.
  • Athena Diesch-Chham, 612-625-4168, diesc009@umn.edu
  • Dr. Erin Malone, 612-625-4762, malon001@umn.edu
  • Anyone in Academic and Student Affairs
  • GOALe mentor(s)
  • Classmates, family and friends
  • Any faculty you feel you can approach
  • Your physician, student health services and/or your spiritual advisor

Final Thoughts

Depression is a treatable condition. If you feel you may be at risk, seek help. If a colleague is at risk, care enough to guide them to therapy or speak to a faculty member or school official who can offer assistance in this matter.

What really tipped me off in realizing I was depressed was when I realized nothing I did was fun anymore. I used to love spending time on my own reading or writing (when I wasn’t doing homework), but I found myself starting to go to bed earlier just because I was so bored. Nothing was enjoyable, but even being bored wasn’t enough to motivate me to do any schoolwork either. So really, if things you normally enjoy aren’t fun for you anymore, pay attention to that. Maybe you’re just getting bored of your hobbies, but it might be indicative of something deeper.”

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2020

It’s really easy to have the “this will never happen to me” mentality when it comes to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. In the moment, you might not even realize that it’s happening to you at all. The most important thing you can do to monitor yourself is be self-aware. Make a note of all the people and activities that make you happy on a daily basis. If they stop bringing you joy, you’ll notice a change right away because you are in touch with your own mind. At that point, you can acknowledge the fact it’s time to take care of your mental health and be proactive about seeking help.

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2021

If you find that you are struggling with time, funds, stress, depression, or anything else, there is always another student in the class who is feeling something similar. Find that other person! Take that first step. Open yourself up to your classmates and they will open up to you. We’re a team.

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2021

Check in with yourself daily on how you are feeling. It sounds simple, but often times it’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own emotions and stress we forget to simple acknowledge that they are happening. You don’t have to try to stop what you are feeling, but taking a moment to consciously check-in can help separate yourself from overwhelming emotions and allow you to move forward. It can also serve as a moment for you to evaluate whether or not the stress/anxiety/depression are getting out of control.

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2020

People’s behavior changes with stress and depression. And the changes can look similar for both stress and depression. A single bad day or bad week is on the calendar for each and every one of us. A bad day is not depression. Pay attention to your friends eating, sleeping, drinking, socializing, and study habits. And trust your gut. If you feel like your friend is has been acting different for more than a few days, it is never wrong to check in with them to make sure they are okay. Whether or not they are experiencing depression, asking how they are doing can help with their bad week or their struggle with mental health. Remind them that they are loved and supported.

UMN CVM Student, Class of 2019

“After spending one Christmas with my family, I began to feel both sad (I cried a lot) and anxious (I was very worried about the upcoming Step I exam) at the thought of having to go back to school. I knew I still had more than half way to go, and just was unsure whether I could cope well through the rest of it. I talked it over with my family and decided that I could go talk to a therapist. It was actually really effective talking to an “outsider” about all the stress/anxiety that I was facing. It helped put things in perspective.”

JABSOM Student, Class of 2004

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Well-being Handbook by Erin Malone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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