You may be uncertain whether or not you are depressed. Everyone's experience of depression is different, and there is a wide variety of symptoms.
Many people feel down occasionally, or go through bad patches, but have areas in their lives that make them feel good, and like things about themselves. For some people though, life is more of a struggle.
They feel bad about themselves and their lives in most ways. At times they feel complete despair. If you feel like this, then you are probably depressed.
Symptoms of depression
- Disliking or even hating yourself or people in general
- Thinking negatively; always seeing the worse in everything
- Finding everything a terrible effort
- Being very irritable
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Eating too little or too much
- Heavy dependency on alcohol or drugs
- Cutting yourself off from other people including loss of interest in sex
- Unable to stop crying or unable to release tears
Dealing with depression
Depression spans a spectrum. At one end you can struggle on leading a more or less normal life, but feeling awful; at the other end the depression may be life-threatening and you may feel suicidal. How can you help yourself?
With moderate depression
- Keep as occupied as you can with things that really interest you
- Get physical - play sport, jog, dance - do anything that stops you brooding
- Do anything which makes you laugh
- Look after yourself physically
- Eat healthily and avoid drugs
- Pay attention to your appearance to make yourself feel good
- Treat yourself from time to time
- Try to make your living environment as pleasant and comfortable as possible
- Ask for help. Others are usually very willing to listen
- Don't hold your feelings in. Cry and get angry if you need to
- Practise challenging some of your negative ideas - especially about yourself. Are you really a worse person or are you just judging yourself too harshly
For severe depression you need to consider getting help. Severe depression is when you cannot function normally, eg you are not going to lectures, eating, getting out of bed, you are actively considering suicide.
Finding help and further information
It may be difficult to put any of the above suggestions into action if you are very depressed. If that is the case, then it is important you seek help.
DMU student counsellors have plenty of experience in working with depression. Contact us for further information and support. Don't be afraid to see your GP if you are depressed. Your GP may refer you to appropriate help or may offer medication in the form of anti-depressants.
Medication does not necessarily take away the cause of the depression, but may give you enough of a lift to take action to deal with the depression yourself as suggested above.
Self-Help Groups are organisations run by people who are have been depressed. They offer advice or information and put people in touch with one another. It can be comforting to know that you are not alone in feeling as you do, and helpful to learn how others cope.
Around 25 per cent of the population suffers from depression at some time in their lives. If you learn to recognise your own particular set of symptoms which tell you you're depressed, and acquaint yourself with the coping mechanisms for trying to deal with them, you can often learn how to manage your depression.
It is very important not to think you are weak or inadequate because you are depressed, but to marshal your resources for finding a way out of your depression.
Mental Health Foundation