While we all may feel depressed from time to time,
“normal” depressions may consist of only one or two symptoms and
usually pass within days. Clinically depressed people will exhibit
multiple symptoms for a longer period of time. Some of these
symptoms are sleep disturbances, poor concentration, change in
appetite, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, withdrawal, poor
hygiene, loss of self-esteem, and preoccupation with death.
2. Agitation or Acting Out
This would represent a departure from
normal or socially appropriate behavior. It might include being
disruptive, exhibiting restlessness or hyperactivity, being antagonistic or emotional volatility (crying easily, losing temper).
Some distressed students may seem “out of it.”
You may witness a diminishment in awareness of what is going on
around them, forgetting or losing things, misperception of facts or
reality, rambling or disconnected speech, and behavior that seems out
of context or bizarre.
4. Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Signs of intoxication during class or
interaction with College officials are indicative of a problem
that requires attention.
5. Suicidal Thoughts
Most people who attempt suicide communicate
early messages about their distress. These messages can range from
“I don’t want to be here”, to a series of vague “good-byes”, to
“I’m going to kill myself.” All suicidal references should be taken seriously.
6. Violence and Aggression
You may become aware of students who
may be dangerous to others. This may be manifested by physically
violent behavior, verbal threats, threatening e-mail or letters, harassing or stalking behavior, and papers or exams that contain violent or threatening material.
While it is not expected that you be a “watchdog” or that you provide a thorough assessment, you may be the first contact for a student in distress and in a position to ask a few questions. The following guidelines are offered as suggestions for dealing with distressed students.