Coping with Depression

Signs of Depression

As a teenager, Kevin Breel almost took his own life.  His story, so powerfully told in his TedxYouth Talk, give voice to an often silent struggle and offers a message of hope.  Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic

  • Low mood
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in activities you usually enjoy
  • Changes in appetite or weight (up or down)
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Low energy
  • Diminished motivation
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Increase in intensity or frequency of anger expression
  • Frequent crying or the inability to cry
  • Difficulty going about your usual routine or handling your responsibilities
  • Withdrawal from others; spending lots of time alone; avoiding the help of others
  • Feelings of agitation or restlessness
  • Increase or decrease in your usual level of sexual interest
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Harsh self-criticism
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Self-injury
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances
  • Increase in impulsive behaviors
  • Obsessive focus on an activity (working out or running, gaming, studying, gambling, working, any other activity in which you become over-involved)

Strategies for Coping with Depression

  •  Build structure into your day. Attend classes, work, activities, or practices. Avoid the temptation to stay in bed or in your room. Make plans for weekends. Try to stay active.
  • Build pleasure and fun into each day. Treat yourself to something that you usually enjoy and that will require you to expend some energy.
  • Keep physically active. Exercise, swim, jog, play tennis, walk on a regular basis. Choose an activity you enjoy. Do it with someone. Don't do it to excess. Read more about the benefits of exercise for mental health.
  • Get adequate sleep. But don't overdo it. Seven or eight hours are sufficient for most people, although some people need more.
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals at fairly regular times of the day. Cut down on junk foods. Don't skip meals.
  • Allow yourself to acknowledge and experience your feelings a little at a time.
  • Keep a journal or use a non-verbal means of self-expression like drawing, painting, working with clay, or music. Express your feelings and thoughts through these vehicles.
  • Problem-solve. Try to identify some things you can do to address the situations in your life that seem to be contributing to your depression.
  • Identify and challenge negative self-talk.
  • Give yourself positive affirmations. Be intentional about giving yourself positive messages each day. Identify what you value about who you are, what you know, and what you can do, and remind yourself of these things. If you can't think of anything positive, ask a good friend.
  • Develop a support system of positive people and use it - friends, family, a special faculty member, coach, etc. - anyone you can trust who will listen and be supportive and encouraging. Don't tell yourself you have to handle things alone.
  • Be with people. Resist the temptation to withdraw and spend lots of time alone.
  • Listen to music you enjoy, that lifts your spirits or relaxes you.
  • Practice relaxation strategies. Consider deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery, yoga, various kinds of meditation.
  • Draw upon your spiritual beliefs; make time for spiritual practices that you find meaningful.
  • Get a checkup at Health Service or by your doctor at home. The same symptoms we associate with depression can be caused by medical problems, like an underactive thyroid, anemia, or the side effects of certain medications.  Be sure you are physically healthy.
  • Check out the online screening for depression available on our web page.
  • Seek out professional help if you have multiple symptoms of depression that persist and interfere with your life. If you have thoughts of suicide, get immediate help.