A Student's Guide to Understanding Depression

A Student’s Guide to Understanding Depression

Depression can cover anything from low spirits to long or recurring periods of sadness, and at it’s worst it can have a huge impact on your ability to cope with everyday life. Here’s what you need to know (and where to find help).

So last week we talked about anxiety, what it is and where students can find help. In fact, 74% of students who report having anxiety related problems also reported some form of depression. Just like anxiety, depression itself is a medical diagnosis, but it’s not uncommon for people without a clinical diagnosis to experience some of it’s symptoms. For the sake of maintaining positive mental health, it’s important that these are taken just as seriously.

What Depression Looks Like

  • Feeling upset or tearful
  • A lack of self esteem
  • Not enjoying things you usually would
  • Avoiding social events
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling restless and agitated
  • Lack of appetite or overeating

(Again, this list isn’t exhaustive and I’m not here to tell you that experiencing these symptoms means you have depression – it’s perfectly normal to just feel down, too. But if you’re concerned go and see your GP or your University’s Student Well Being team. They’ll be happy to help you out).

For me, my worst days look like a little grey cloud following me around, making my mood permanently low and stopping me from enjoying things that I usually would. It’s perfectly normal to feel like this, and it’s a lot more common than you’d think. 77% of students with mental health problems report them as being depression related. The point being: we’re not alone.

A Student's Guide to Understanding Depression

What you can do about it

Now, of course it won’t work for everyone, but here are my best methods of combating depressive episodes…

Keep Busy

My worst moods always occur when I’m bored and give myself too much time to think (otherwise known as talking myself into a rut). So the solution? I make sure I’m always doing something, or always planning to do something. Making weekend plans with my friends, getting ahead on work or spending my time helping other people combat their problems with this blog -just as long as there’s something to occupy my mind.

Have a Routine

I get up at the same time each morning, I try to go to sleep at around the same time each night (speaking of which, sleep is essential,) I eat three meals a day and I plan my work and social life around my schedule. Why? For me, an organised life equals an organised mind. I’ve discovered that having a routine is essential for keeping me focused, occupied and as happy as possible. Even on bad days.

Talk About it

This is one everyone should do. If I’m feeling down, the best thing I can do is to text my best friend and ask him to just natter away at me for a while and take my mind off whatever’s upsetting me. Sometimes reminding yourself that someone cares, or even just hearing a friendly voice, is all you need to latch on to.

A Student's Guide to Understanding Depression

Where to Find Help

Friends and Family

This would always be my first go to. I can tell you that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ until I’m blue in the face (and I’d be right) but admitting that you’re struggling can still feel terrifying. It might be easier at first to talk to someone you’re comfortable with, and make it less daunting when it comes to seeking help.

Your University

Every University will have a system in place for students who need support – well being services can offer you everything from pet therapy to counselling sessions. It might feel awkward at first but remember: it’s these people’s job to help you. Let them do it.

Your Doctor

Your GP or your University doctor are both there to help you, too. They can offer advice and refer you to mental health services if it’s something you need.

Alternatively, you can make an appointment with NHS well being services. They offer free consultations and counselling sessions that can be invaluable in helping you and letting you know you’re not alone.

A Student's Guide to Understanding Depression

In and Emergency…

As ever, if you’re struggling and you can’t wait for an appointment to come through, there’s a useful list of numbers here.