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Beating The Stigma Of Depression: U-M Conference Focuses On More Individualized Treatment

Mar 11, 2019

"Depression on College Campuses" Conference Banner
Credit University of Michigan Depression Center / depressioncenter.org

Working to erase the stigma of depression and coming up with better ways of treatment are just some of the reasons for this week’s University of Michigan annual “Depression on College Campuses" conference.

89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with the founder and director of the The University Depression Center, Dr. John Greden, who will be speaking at the conference on March 14th.


The University of Michigan Depression Center is hosting the 17th annual Depression on College Campuses conference on March 13-14 at the Rackham Graduate School on the U of M campus.  Students, parents, medical professionals, and leaders in student mental health will meet to discuss this year’s theme of “One Size Does Not Fit All: Aligning Levels of Care to Student Mental Health Need” and how to tailor mental health care for individual needs.

Dr. John Greden, executive director of the University of Michigan Depression Center
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Dr. John Greden, M.D., founder and executive director of the U of M Depression Center, shares that 15-17% of us will be affected by depression at some point in our lives, and it usually starts around ages 15-24.  He says depression left untreated will gradually get worse and become recurrent adding that "depression is a medical condition and is more than having a bad day. "

Depression can be characterized by the lack of interest or enjoyment in things, difficulty concentrating on tasks, appetite and physical symptom changes, sleep deprivation, loss of sexual interest, and difficulty maintain workplace and personal relationships.  Dr. Greden further shares that depression makes cardiac conditions and cancers worse with increasing the odds of dying from a heart attack three times more likely if someone has depression in the next year.

The U of M Depression Center has set out to work with schools and the community to teach people and fellow peers how to speak up about their own problems, become more aware with other’s problems, how to talk to others about them, and reducing the stigma of depression.  

“In the past, [depression] was seen as a weakness rather than an illness" according to Dr. Greden, who adds "most of the general public doesn’t see it as an illness and believe depression means that something is wrong with them and that they’re weak,” Dr. Greden explains in a statement addressing why there is a social stigma with depression saying to yourself and others that depression is not a weakness and you or they deserve help.

The U of M Depression Center started the first Depression on College Campuses conference because depression is severe among college students.  “Stress from leaving home, being exposed to drugs and alcohol, taking exams, and new roommates all hit at once,” Dr. Greden states concerning core stressors among college students that might cause them to get depressed.  One size does not fit all, though shares Dr. Greden hence the theme of this year’s conference.  “Precision treatment is a term we [UMDC] have been using to address the specific causes of depression that people might have.  There is no single approach that work for everybody with depression.”

Dr. John Greden is hosting the final talk at the conference called “How Can We Come Up with Precision Approaches for Everybody,” and he invites the public to come listen to the talk at Rackham Auditorium on the University of Michigan campus.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu