Most likely, everyone will experience feeling depressed one time or another during their lifetime. A person may feel depressed for an obvious or no apparent reason at all (see list below.) At times, these feelings of depression may become overwhelming, intense and prolonged. Daily functioning may become difficult, if not impossible. Thoughts of hurting oneself in some way, even ending one’s life, may appear to be the only option. As a result, it is important to recognize depressive symptoms early on and seek help from others including professionals.
Although each person may experience a depressive state differently, here is a list of common symptoms that many people feel when they are depressed:
- Lack of emotional response (i.e. "I just feel numb.")
- Loss of warm feelings toward family and friends.
- Feeling all alone or wanting to isolate themselves from others.
- Helplessness and/or hopelessness.
- Inability to experience pleasure, even from activities that used to feel good.
- Loss of sexual desire.
- Feelings of self blame and/or guilt.
- Feeling worthless.
- Feeling physically, emotionally and mentally tired, lethargic, or exhausted.
- Feeling irritable and seeing everything in a negative light.
- Change in sleeping (i.e. sleeping longer hours, waking up frequently, unable to fall asleep, etc.)
- Loss of or increase in appetite.
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, etc.
- Academic difficulties due to inability to concentrate, study or attend classes.
Why does someone become depressed?
- Loss of a significant relationship.
- Leaving home or transition to a unfamiliar environment.
- Academic, professional and/or financial difficulties.
- Parental conflict.
- Relational difficulties (romantic and otherwise.)
- Existential concerns (e.g.: “meaning of my life” questions or uncertainty about future after graduation.)
- Substance abuse; alcohol and/or drug addiction.
- Other chemical or biological factors such as hormonal imbalance, reactions to certain medications, etc.
- Environmental circumstances
Things you can do to help yourself:
- Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break from stressful situations.
- Seek out support, validation and assistance from friends, family and others.
- Engage in activities that were pleasurable in the past even if you do not enjoy them right now.
- Exercise and spend time outdoors (both help alleviate symptoms through endorphin release.
- Avoid making long term commitments or decisions until your depression has lifted.
- Take one day, hour, activity, etc., at a time.
- Attempt to accomplish small goals as opposed to trying to solve everything at once.
- Journaling and/or painting may be a way to express your thoughts and feelings.Reassure the person that you care and want to be supportive.Do not discount or minimize the person’s experience.
If feelings of depression persist and or worsen, it is advisable to reach out to a mental health professional. Remember, depression is a common issue that many students face. You are not alone and alleviation of your symptoms is definitely possible. In addition to exploring your issues with a therapist, it might be helpful to consult with a psychiatrist to evaluate whether anti-depressant medication might be indicated.
How can I help someone else who may be depressed?
- Listen and acknowledge the person’s feelings and thoughts.
- Reassure the person that you care and want to be supportive.
- Do not discount or minimize the person's experience.
- Ask the person, “What would be helpful right now? Is there anything I can do?”
- Suggest professional resources (UCTC, SHC , etc.)
- Offer to accompany the person to an appointment.