- What is Depression?
- If you have this type of depression, you may have feelings like these:
- If you are depressed, you might find yourself doing some of these things:
- Things that might help you include:
- How might depression affect your life as a student?
- Where does depression come from?
- Sources of further information
- What you can do about depression at university
What is Depression?
Depression involves periods of low mood, which we can all identify with from time to time. For most of us this is not long-lasting or disabling. However, for some people the low mood continues for more than two weeks. Depression like that can be either mild, moderate or severe. This leaflet talks about the different types, and how you can help yourself, or access specialist help if you need it.
If you have this type of depression, you may have feelings like these:
- Constant sadness
- Hopelessness about yourself, your current situation and the future
- Everything is grey and boring
- You are never good enough
- Getting irritable or angry more than usual
- Having little or no energy
- Tense and worried most of the time
- Upsetting thoughts about illness or death.
This is very common. Depression affects about 1 in 6 adults at some time in their lives. It is not something to be ashamed of. It doesn’t mean you are weak or incapable. Most episodes of depression will clear up by themselves, but there are effective treatments for it.
If you are depressed, you might find yourself doing some of these things:
- Wanting to stay in bed all day because there’s nothing to get up for
- Crying more often than usual
- Not looking after yourself
- Losing interest in other people (including sex)
- Sleeping a lot less (or a lot more) than usual
- Eating a lot less (or a lot more) than usual
- Finding it hard to concentrate on anything
- Forgetting all sorts of things
- Thinking about self-harm or death.
If one or two of these things apply to you, it may not mean that you are seriously depressed. The key thing about depression is that a lot of the features mentioned in this leaflet apply to you most or all of the time, and stop you getting on with your life.
We all feel a bit low at times. Mostly, this feeling passes by itself, but if it becomes a problem to you, it is possible to do something about it.
Things that might help you include:
- If your depression is mild, regular exercise and a good diet
- Avoiding heavy drinking and other drug use
- Talking about it to someone
- Planning something positive to look forward to
- Keeping a diary of things that have gone well.
How might depression affect your life as a student?
If you’ve had depression before, coming to University might make it worse at first. For other people, the stresses of University life might bring it on.
At University, you might experience:
- Difficulty in concentrating and in completing work on time
- Feelings of being a failure academically
- Feeling unattractive and wanting to isolate yourself
- Not wanting to attend course sessions
- Believing that everything is ‘too much of an effort’
- Thoughts of giving up the course.
As a result, you might cut yourself off from other people. It might seem that these feelings will go on for ever.
Where does depression come from?
Some people have a tendency to depression in their families. For others, it may be due to an unhappy childhood or a series of upsetting events. Depressed people have been found to have lower levels of certain brain chemicals, which can be restored by medication. There is often a combination of factors in a depressed person’s nature and history.
Sources of further information
You can find out more about depression at:
What you can do about depression at university?
Your university should be responsive to the needs of students with long lasting and severe depression, both because it is morally obliged to and (in many countries) because disability legislation obliges it to. However, the majority of depression is not severe.
For many people, the university Counselling Service will be the first and most helpful option, for those experiencing mild to moderate depression. Students are encouraged to refer themselves (which means that you don’t need to be sent by your tutor). There will be information on Counselling on your university website.
Your university may also have someone called a Mental Health Co-ordinator or similar title. You will probably be able to contact him or her through the Counselling department.
Treatment for depression often involves:
- Talking treatments, which could include Counselling or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). These are the recommended first choice, if your depression is mild to moderate.
- Medication – usually anti-depressants. May be prescribed if you have a more severe type. You can discuss any concerns about these with your Doctor, Counsellor or the Mental Health Co-ordinator.
There is a lot of useful information about mental health for students at www.d-stress.org.uk/