Where to Get Help Treatment Options


  • Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. The majority (80-90%) of people who receive treatment experience significant improvement, and almost all individuals gain some relief from their symptoms.
  • Nearly eight out of ten patients with depressive illness will improve through treatment with medicine and psychotherapy. (From Friends Hospital, The National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association).
  • A vast amount of scientific evidence demonstrates that psychotherapy is generally as effective or more effective than medications in the treatment of depression. (From Antonuccio, D.O. (1995, 1996). Psychotherapy for Depression: No stronger medicine. American Psychologist, 50, 450-452.)
  • With a trained professional, you can find better ways of dealing with your stresses, thoughts, or relationships.
  • Psychotherapy can be used by itself or in combination with medicine.
  • It is important to continue with it for relapse prevention.
  • To make an appointment at the counseling center at W&L, please call (540) 458-8590 or e-mail counseling@wlu.edu.

Antidepressant Medications

Studies have found that antidepressants, in combination with psychotherapy, effectively treat major depression when provided within a doctor’s guidelines. 

    • Useful in correcting the chemical imbalances that may be associated with major depression.
    • Thought to work by increasing the supply of neurotransmitters in the brain in order to restore the chemical balance. 
    • Most commonly prescribed are:  Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) which work to block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin. These include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.  Tricylic Antidepressants (TCA) which work by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. These include Elavil and Norpramin. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) which inhibit the activity of monoamine oxidase, thereby preventing the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters. These include Nardil and Marplan.  It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medication as prescribed.
    • Light Therapy may be helpful for those with mild to moderate depression that occurs during the winter months.  Uses broad-spectrum light to create the effect of having a few more hours of sunlight every day.  Light is provided by special light boxes or light visors.  Numerous scientific studies have found that light therapy has a specific antidepressant effect, especially for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
    • Healthy living & regular moderate exercise can increase your sense of mastery, which can help for people who don’t feel in control of their lives and moods;  increase self-esteem; provide a distraction from your worries; improve your health and body, which can help lift your mood; help you get rid of built-up stress and frustration; and help you sleep better.  Exercise and depression.
    • Diet: to keep the brain functioning at optimal levels, you need a balanced diet that is low in processed foods and sugars, and high in whole foods, including essential fatty acids and amino acids.  People feeling depressed should especially avoid foods high in carbohydrates, which cause an immediate rise in serotonin, followed by a sharp drop in serotonin levels. This can result in depression, carbohydrate cravings, sleep disturbances, and irritability. 
    • Positive Activity: do at least one pleasing activity everyday. This may be talking on the phone to friends, going for a walk or a drive, etc.

"Medication (Lexapro) helped me physically with my symptoms. However, emotionally I struggled with the situation, seeing my therapist on a regular basis. I am still in the process of changing the thought patterns that have become ingrained into my mind and dealing with situations that provoke some of my detrimental thoughts.” -W&L Student

How do I get help?

“Almost two years after my initial diagnosis, I still battle with clinical depression, but with aggressive therapy and a conscious effort on my part to not allow this illness to control my life, I’ve started to get beyond this segment of my life. I have a greater appreciation for what depression is and what it can do if left untreated. I have learned that, no matter how dark I may feel, there are always people there willing to bring me back into the light. There is no reason for me to suffer in silence because everybody is willing to help. I’m not alone in my fight, and that provides me more solace than anything.”W&L Student

Resources on Campus:
    • University Counseling Center, 458-8590. Location: Fairfax Suite, Early-Fielding Building. Emergency walk-in daily at 11am. 
    • Four full-time Counselors: Christy Barongan, Ph.D.,  Janet Boller, Psy.D., Rallie Snowden, MSW, & Kirk Luder, M.D.
    • Peer Counselors.
    • Health Center: Call 540.458.8401 for 24-hour coverage.  Two health care providers: Jane T. Horton, M.D. & Matthew Crance, PA-C.
Community Resources:
    • For a referral to a private therapist please contact the Health Center or Counseling Center.
    • Crisis Text Line: Text "GO" to 741-741 (free, 24/7, confidential)
    • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
    • Rockbridge Area Community Services Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline: 1.855.222.2046

If you are concerned about yourself or a friend, please call the Counseling Center at 540.458.8590 or the Health Center at 540.458.8401.
Additional links on depression and suicide: National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.