Cabin fever

As a lifetime Clevelander there are a lot of things I like about my city, and I always encourage my out-of-town friends to visit and see for themselves—except in January. January in Cleveland is usually a month of frozen ponds, darkness by dinnertime and cold winds that seem to penetrate any coat. It is also living in fear of being coughed on by a bacteria/virus factory of a stranger or friend.

So while depression is something that can strike anyone anytime, it can bite harder in winter for the reasons listed above. There have been a number of things written in The Observer and elsewhere this year, but this is such an important topic that it bears repeating. Depression can affect anyone, but the university age population can be especially vulnerable for a variety of reasons: away from home and living on your own for the first time, pressure to perform academically, relationship or substance abuse issues and so on. College years are often described as the best years of your life (and they may be—no mortgage yet, knees don’t hurt when you get out of bed in the morning, etc.) but that doesn’t mean they don’t have significant pressures of their own.

That’s the bad news. The good news is you may never again be in a place where there is more support readily available to help face those challenges. It starts with friends and roommates or classmates, moves on to resident assistants, coaches, professors and maybe even campus police officers on occasion. If these aren’t enough there is a dedicated counseling center in the Sears building (216-368-5872 for an appointment) that can link you up with a trained and confidential counselor. The key is to talk to someone—depression isn’t usually one of those things that goes away if you ignore it long enough.

So grab a cup of coffee, put your hood up and take advantage of these resources if you need them. Winter will pass and the sun will return, I promise. Let’s look out for each other.