Sadness and Depression: When it's not "Just the Blues"
We all have times when we feel down. It's normal to feel sad when a relationship ends or there is conflict in the family. The stress of a heavy study load or financial difficulties can also be a downer. However, the gloomy feelings usually pass and we are able to experience happy times. Sometimes the sad feelings don't go away - we stop enjoying things that used to be fun. We might have difficulty keeping up with study, or find it hard to even get out of bed in the morning; this could be depression.
How will I know if I'm depressed?
If you've been feeling miserable more often than not over the past two weeks or more, and you've stopped enjoying things that used to be fun, you might be depressed. People with depression report some of the following symptoms:
- Finding it hard to get motivated and feel interested in things
- Wanting to avoid friends and everyday activities
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Losing interest in eating, or overeating
- Finding it difficult to get to sleep, waking during the night, or waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep. Alternatively, wanting to sleep all the time.
- Thinking about, or planning suicide
- Having unpleasant, negative thoughts (feeling guilty or that you are a bad or unworthy person)
- How did I get depressed?
Sometimes stress builds up in our lives and overwhelms our ability to cope. It can be a sudden unexpected event or ongoing stress like financial problems, long study hours with little sleep, or feeling lonely and isolated. Sometimes people get depressed for no obvious reason; the heavy feelings just seem to come out of the blue. No matter how you became depressed, the effects may become unbearable and can affect your study, your social life, and even your health if left untreated.
Ok, so I'm depressed - what now?
Depression is more common than most people think and it can get better. If you think you may be depressed take the Online Mental Health Screening and talk to someone. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, advisor, mentor, doctor or counselor. Often counseling, together with lifestyle changes (e.g. reducing stress, cutting down on alcohol) is useful for reducing depression. In some cases medication may be necessary.