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College health surveys show that approximately 40% of college student nationwide, experience depression. Depression is one of the top presenting concerns of college students seeking counseling. Depression is a mood disorder that affects how people feel, think, and behave. Depression may be a temporary sadness following a death, divorce, transition, or loss, or it may be a longer-lasting experience that interferes with relationships, school, and recreation. Depression can also seem to come from "out of the blue" with no clear precipitant.
Self-help and coping strategies can be useful to manage symptoms, but keep in mind that this may not be enough and seeking professional help is recommended.
Remember that most people usually experience the above symptoms at various times throughout their lives, and it doesn't necessarily mean that they're depressed. It may be "depression" when many symptoms occur at the same time, when they last for a long period of time, and when they are frequent and intense.
Coping with depression takes action and involves engaging in a series of small, productive steps throughout your day that positively influence mood. But for those experiencing epression, these small steps can seem insurmountable and exhausting. That is the catch-22 of recovery from depression—the things that will likely help improve your mood, are exactly those things that feel the most difficult. Often taking that first step (like going for a walk or attending your first class of the day) creates momentum leading to other helpful steps (like meeting a friend at Miller for lunch) that serve to ultimately boost your mood.
Reach out and stay connected—social withdrawal and isolation are common symptoms of depression.
Do things you enjoy, or things you used to enjoy--Pushing yourself to do something that you typically enjoy when you are not depressed can be difficult and may not immediately improve your mood; however, the more you do this, the more likely it is that you will begin to feel more energetic and positive.
Support your health
Get some sunshine—Sunlight can help increase serotonin levels and boost our mood. Try to aim for at least 15 minutes of time in the sun each day.
Challenge your negative thinking—How we perceive events in our lives influences how we feel. If we are always assuming the worst will happen or negatively evaluating our behaviors, we will feel more depressed and/or anxious. Check in with yourself to see how you are interpreting things and ask yourself if such statements are true (e.g., Is it true that no one likes you? Are you truly always making mistakes?).
Seek professional help—talking to a trained mental health provider or medical practitioner can be helpful when the self-care strategies above are not helping or when depression is persistent and unremitting. Seeking outside help is not a sign of weakness. Relief and support often result from talking to someone outside of your usual support-network.
(adapted from HelpGuide.org)
Myth: People who are depressed just need to get over it.
Fact: People often feel depressed because they don't talk about things, talking about it can help them feel better and learn new ways to cope with their feelings.
Myth: Depression will just go away by itself
Fact: While some depressive feelings are temporary, depression will not likely spontaneously go away. Counseling can help explore things an individual might be able to do to help cope with their depression.
Myth: Depression isn't a real illness.
Fact: Depression is a very real illness and it's OK to seek treatment. Those with a broken arm or diabetes seek medical treatment without judgment, and those with depression should have the right to feel equally comfortable getting help.
Myth: Only weak or crazy people get depressed.
Fact: 15 million Americans can't be wrong: depression can happen to anyone.
Myth: Only women get depressed.
Fact: Men also experience depression, but may not seek help or report it for fear of being seen as "weak". Depression can happen to anyone regardless of gender, and feeling depressed doesn't mean that you are weak, ineffective, or less masculine.
Myth: If I go for counseling I'll be put on medication.
Fact: Many people experience relief through counseling alone and do not take medication. The choice to take medication is yours. If you decide to do so it's important to know that it's not "addictive", that it's not a "crutch", and you probably won't be on it for the rest of your life. Antidepressant medication is not an "upper" or false mood enhancer, but a way to help lift some of the symptoms of depression to help improve the quality of your functioning. Those with heart disease or high blood pressure take medication to help their symptoms; those with depression have the right to take medication to help theirs as well.