Latinas and depression.
photo: iStock

October is Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. While some people think of depression as just being sad, clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Each year, 10 to 14 million people are diagnosed with clinical depression. Unfortunately, college age Latinas have some of the highest rates of depression, and it's something I can relate to. After I experienced a major life event before my sophomore year of college, I became consumed with sadness that took me many years to get over. However, after receiving help from family, friends, my faith, and a support group, I was able to get past my sadness to become a stronger version of myself. So why are college-age Latinas at a higher risk for depression?

There are many factors. Some of these actors include moving away from family for college, a break-up with a significant other, or loss of a loved one. Moving away from a close-knit family can be difficult as you adjust to new surroundings without your family by your side. When you become home-sick and alone, it is easy for feelings of sadness can begin to consume you. See how I dealt with the big transition to relocating for college.

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For me, losing my high school sweetheart before my sophomore year of college was the lowest point in my life. When he passed away unexpectedly, I went into mourning and depression. A loss of loved one at any age is hard, but losing someone I had always imagined a future with made it more difficult for me to move forward. So how can we help each other?

Only one in eleven Latinos with a mental health disorder will contact a mental health provider for treatment and care.  For many Latinas, the stigma of being considered “loca” keeps them from wanting to seek help. The thought of being considered a little loquita should not stop you from seeking assistance with your problems. While we tend to be more private about our personal issues, at the end of the day, we have to remember to take care of ourselves. 

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After losing my high school sweetheart, it took me months to ask for help. I wanted to deal with my sadness and emotions privately, because I thought something was wrong with me for feeling sad for so long. After almost six months after his death, I finally went to see a college counselor to help me sort out my feelings. However, I only went to one session and decided to deal with my depression on my own. It wasn’t until four years later that I decided to join a bereavement support group. This group made me realize I was not alone in this struggle.

If you are experiencing any depression symptoms, please reach out to someone, whether it is a family member, friend, counselor, or doctor for help. Or if you have a friend or family member who is experiencing symptoms of depression, extend a hand to them so they can take a step in getting the medical help they need. I wish I had reached out for help earlier than waiting months to do so. If I had, I may have been able to move forward and healed sooner.  

We all experience moments of sadness in life. However, when sadness and feeling blue begins to consume your life, you may be experiencing depression symptoms. To learn whether you or someone you know needs help, click here for a list of national organizations to get you back on track to being the happy, confident woman that you are.

Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.