Depression is an illness. It affects the whole body, including the brain. It can change how a person feels emotionally and physically. Depression can affect anyone at anytime. Feeling blue, sad, down in the dumps or just low is something we all experience at times. Students are often prone to depression while coping with the multiple pressures of school, work, friends and family. Students who receive high grades or low grades are equally vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed. We all can be pressured to a point where nothing seems to give us pleasure and it becomes hard to get interested in things or just to get started. When we experience these feelings, we may also notice other changes as well.
Causes of Depression
Depression can have many sources, but is typically caused by a combination of biological, genetic, and psychological factors. Listed below are some common reasons many college students become depressed:
- Difficulty adjusting to college
- Difficulty establishing new relationships
- Loss of significant relationship
- Parental conflict or dysfunctional family patterns
- Academic difficulties
- Financial problems
- Consumption of alcohol and drugs
- Unrealistic expectations
- Negative thinking
Depression is NOT the result of laziness, weakness, personal failure, or lack of will power!!!
Depression is treatable so it is important to speak with a health care provider if you experience any of the following:
These feelings may be present for an extended period of time.
- Overeating or poor appetite
- Difficulty sleeping or wanting to sleep all the time
- Feeling as though you never have enough energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Chronic low self-esteem, pessimism or sadness
A more acute illness with symptoms of minor depression and some of these additional symptoms.
- Loss of pleasure or interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Mood is depressed for most of the day, almost everyday
- Appetite changes (increase or decrease); weight changes by 5% or more
- Crying spells, sadness, and/or irritability
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness that are inappropriate
- A sense of being overwhelmed by sadness or of "going crazy"
- Hard to explain, sometimes frightening, physical symptoms (i.e., body pains, severe headaches)
- Changes in sleep (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Suicidal thoughts, feelings and or behaviors
- Functioning is significantly impaired (i.e., difficulty going to work/school, relationships suffering)
- Loss of motivation
- Indecisiveness, poor concentration or diminished attention span
- Loss of energy
- A lack of sexual desire
Ways to Cope with Depression
- Build structure into your day. Set daily goals and stick to them.
- Build pleasure and fun into each day. Treat yourself to something that you will enjoy and that will require you to expend some energy.
- Keep active -- exercise, swim, jog, play tennis, etc. You choose the activity.
- Get plenty of rest and sleep, but do not over do it. About 6 to 8 hours should be enough.
- Eat balanced nutritious meals. As always, cut down on the junk foods.
- Don't turn to drugs or alcohol. These substances can depress you more and will prolong symptoms, thus making it harder to feel better.
- Allow yourself to experience your feelings. If you need to cry, do so. If you are angry, find a safe way to express that anger. Acknowledge the feelings, and experience them a little at a time.
- Keep a journal, write out how you are feeling and what you are thinking. It's a nice way to experience the feelings as opposed to keeping them inside.
- Challenge any negative self-talk or messages that you may be giving yourself. Look for the truth in any messages that you give yourself. Stick with what you know is true, is real, and is observable, rather that jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Do not focus on the negative.
- Give yourself positive affirmations. Change the negative messages into positive ones that are uplifting and edifying.
- Develop a support system of positive people -- good friends, family a counselor - anyone who will be supportive, encouraging and uplifting.
- Be with people.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Nurture yourself.
- Give yourself time to feel better. Change doesn't really happen overnight. There will be highs and lows, but allow yourself the time you need.
- Seek out professional help if you feel the need for, or want additional help in, working through your feelings.
If you have experienced symptoms of sadness or depression for a while, consult the Cowell Health Center or Counseling Center to learn about the many available options to help you feel like yourself again. Campus resources are FREE to all SCU students.
**Should you be thinking suicidal thoughts, contact a health care or counseling provider, 911, or a crisis line immediately!!
**Suicide and Crisis Line 408-279-3312
Other Depression & Suicide Resources
Source: Student Resource Service-- University of Chicago Virtual Pamphlet Collection