Depression is one of the most common mental health concerns that affects people from all walks of life. In some cases, symptoms of depression are mild, short-term, and minimally disruptive to overall functioning. However, when symptoms are persistent and more intense, many areas of daily life — classes, jobs, social and personal relationships, and family—can be significantly affected. Such cases require professional attention that may include talk therapy and/or medication.
Symptoms of Depression
- Persistent sadness, anxiety, or "empty" feelings
- Easily distracted and forgetful
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping too much
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
Depression is more than feeling sad. It can involve a few or many of the symptoms listed above and it can take place even if there is not a particular event or situation causing it to happen. It is important to know that depression is NOT having a “bad day” and depression does not reflect any weakness in character. Depression can be painful and disruptive for the person experiencing it and it can often be difficult to ask for help. It is important to remember that depression is a real, treatable illness and is nothing to be ashamed about. If you are feeling depressed, tell someone how you are feeling: a friend, family member, counselor, doctor, advisor, professor, spiritual guide, etc.
- Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings. Even if you are not ready to talk about the depression, spend time with people and fight the urge to isolate yourself.
- Keep track of your feelings by writing them in a journal or using a mood tracking app.
- Eat consistent meals of nutritious food.
- Get enough sleep.
- Get outside or out of your room and do anything (see a movie, go to a ballgame, attend a religious service, go to a club or organization meeting, study at a coffee shop, walk in nature, play with a pet, etc.).
- Engage in some mild exercise.
- Use positive, realistic self-talk and challenge negative, distorted thinking. Consider saying daily self-affirmations.
- Find balance through yoga, meditation, or prayer.
- Accept help from others.
- Be patient with yourself as your mood and motivation slowly begin to improve. Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Use journaling. Write down your experiences and feelings or maybe try a gratitude list.
- Participate in activities that you used to enjoy, even if they don’t seem like fun right now.
- Break up large tasks or assignments into small ones. Be patient with yourself as it may be more difficult to complete tasks or take longer than usual.
- Engage in random acts of kindness or seek out volunteer work.
- Seek out professional assistance.
- The Counseling Center offers a number of services geared toward exploring, processing, and managing concerns with depression, including:
- To begin any of these services, please first schedule a brief assessment.
- Consider talking with your physician or psychiatrist about how medication may be helpful in managing symptoms of depression. The University Health Center has physicians and psychiatrists on staff.
- Consider registering with the Accessibility and Disability Service (ADS) on campus in order to determine if accommodations for a mood disorder are available to you.
Students Against Depression
Information, resources, videos, and blogs about college students’ experiences of depression
5 Tips to Avoid Depression in College
Advice from college mental health professionals
Strategies for tackling depression and moving forward
List of Resources
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance list of brochures, podcasts, videos, and other resources
TED Talk on Getting Stuck in Negative Thinking
A social psychologist shares why we get stuck in negative thinking and how to combat this
Comprehensive Workbook on Managing Depression
CCI’s Workbook (9 Modules) on understanding and coping with depression
Apps for Depression
- T2 Mood Tracker
- Thought Challenger
- What’s Up
- Calm Harm
- MY3-Support Network
- Happy Feed (iPhone only)