Dealing with Depression
Causes | Symptoms | Treatment Options | Self-Help
All of us have felt down, blue or discouraged at times throughout our life. It is normal and expected to have variations in moods over time and even day-to-day. A variety of things can impact how we feel each day. Some common triggers for mood changes include times in which we experience unpleasantness or pain, such as:
- Transitioning and adjusting to a new environment
- Academic or employment stress and difficulties
- Conflict or emotional distress in relationships (e.g. family or roommate problems)
- The loss of a significant relationship (e.g. break up; death)
- Concerns about the future
- Financial stress
What is the difference between feeling blue and experiencing Depression?
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify if you are going through a rough patch or if you are experiencing something more serious. Feelings of sadness are temporary. You feel hopeful that things will improve and are able to put your situation in perspective. Despite feeling down, you are able to manage daily life effectively and experience minimal interruptions in your day. You will also recognize that there are things within your control that can make you feel better, and you have the energy and ability to make those changes.
What can I do when I’m feeling blue?
Try some of these techniques and coping skills to begin to reduce your symptoms. Pick one to experiment with for a week to give yourself enough time to begin to see positive changes:Talk to someone
There are significant benefits you feel socially connected to others. This emotional support is linked to the following: increased self esteem, sense of belonging, and ability to cope, and decrease in loneliness.
Take care of your body
- Studies have shown the negative effects of loneliness include: increased risk for mortality, sleep problems, anxiety and tension, and weaker immune systems.
Eat several healthy meals and get a good night’s rest every day.
- Regularly exercise, particularly cardiovascular activity (for more information, read Spark by John J. Ratey, MD).
Create balance in your day
Include activities every day in which you gain a sense of Achievement, Connection with Others and Enjoyment. Use the ACE log PDF.
Practice gratitudeGet involved in free activities on campusRead a self-help book
Gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. For a week, keep a gratitude journal and write down three things every day.
- Happy for No Reason by Marci Shimoff
- Zen and the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss
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What Causes Depression?
Clinical depression is a significant disturbance in mood which persists for a minimum of two weeks at a time. Depression can affect people of all ages, including children and elderly adults, though the mean age. Depression may range from mild to severe depending upon the associated symptoms and the extent the condition interferes with everyday functioning. In milder forms, depressed moods are usually brief and may have little effect on everyday activities. Moderate to severe depression includes symptoms that are more intense, last longer, and tend to interfere more with school, work and social functioning.
Depression is a medical illness which can be caused by a variety of factors, including biological, genetic, psychological or environmental factors. Depression affects approximately 15 million Americans every year and is a leading cause of suicide. Although depression might initially begin as a reaction to an event or situation, it is a serious disorder that requires treatment. For others, their mood concerns can occur without identifiable causes. Depression is NOT a result of a personal failure, lack of will power or laziness.
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Symptoms of Depression
Depressive symptoms are a significant change in the person’s functioning. Symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Disinterest in activities you previously enjoyed (e.g. isolating from others)
- Feeling worthless, excessively guilty, or hopeless
- Low self esteem
- Lack of motivation
- Disruptions in sleeping habits (e.g. insomnia, excessively sleeping)
- Disruptions in eating habits or weight (e.g. decrease in appetite; significant weight gain)
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death
- Difficulty concentrating
- Frequently crying
- Physical ailments nonresponsive to treatment (e.g. chronic pain, digestive problems)
How do I know when I need professional help?
- When you are starting to feel like a danger to yourself or others.
- When you feel stuck or tired of suffering.
- When others notice you are not yourself, or there is a change in your behavior.
- When someone who loves you, or whose opinion you response, says you should.
- When what you are doing is not working and you don’t know what to do next.
- When symptoms are interfering with your daily life.
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What treatments are available for Depression?
There are many resources available to help with Depression symptoms, including self help materials, counseling, and medication options. However, without treatment, depression symptoms will usually reoccur and increase in severity over time. Treatments for depression are very effective so it is important to seek help early before symptoms continue to worsen. If depression has persisted for months, if it is significantly interfering with your life, or you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others, you are encouraged to contact the CWC immediately.
What else can help reduce Depression?
Experiment with some of these techniques and coping skills to begin to reduce your symptoms. Remember that change takes time, so be patient as you implement these changes.
Go to the CWC
Common services recommended to students experiencing Depression include the Emotional Fitness workshop, Group Therapy, Individual Counseling or Psychiatric Services.
Talk to someone
There are significant benefits you feel socially connected to others. This emotional support is linked to the following: increased self-esteem, sense of belonging, and ability to cope, and decrease in loneliness. Connect with peers online at forums for depression, such as Beyond Blue.
Change your thinking habits
Thinking habits can either positively or negatively affect your behaviors, emotions and physiological reactions. Be diligent in reframing negative thinking, you are changing a pattern that has been in place for a long time.
- Learn about common thinking errors to recognize when a thought is unhelpful.
Being kind to yourself rather than critical.
Use positive event scheduling
Schedule time to do something fun every day. People usually find they enjoy the activity, even if they did not anticipate they would.
- Go for a walk
- Cook a new recipe
- Invite a friend to lunch
- Sit outside in the sun
- Attend an event on campus
Read a self-help book
- Feeling Good by David Burns, MD
- The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, PhD, John Teasdale, PhD, Zindel Segal, PhD and Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
- The Depression Cure by Stephen Ilardi, PhD
- An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD
For more techniques, check this document out: Maintaining_the_Balance.pdf
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