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The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression


College is practically trying to keep up with overlapping assignments and exams for one or all subjects, with professors who have different styles of teaching and standards for students, and with a balanced and healthy social life. 

Student life is not easy. Despite the idyllic image we often paint of the university, most people see it as an unhealthy place. Whether or not you have previously been depressed, college can act as a catalyst for the onset of various mental health issues. For most students, college life is definitely stress-inducing with all its demands. And with the many other issues and changes they face as young people, the timing couldn’t be worse.

In 2009, a nationwide survey was conducted among college students in various institutions. The American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) revealed that 30% of college students have reported having felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function”.

Depression is a common mental health issue among college students. The various transitions they go through make them particularly vulnerable to depression. In addition to the academic stress related to class loads, students are forced to face adulthood at an earlier age. The more adult-like responsibilities they take on, the more they become prone to mental health problems. College kids have not yet fully mastered the skills of independence and the maturity of adulthood. Because of this, they experience major depressive episodes coupled with severe impairment.

Tips for Dealing with Depression

When depression hits you, the first thing to remember is that you are not alone. That said, however, do not compare your experiences to that of another. In the battle with the disorder, no two people’s experiences are exactly the same. One thing is for sure, though, is that depression doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can become a depressive or experience a major depressive episode at any point in their lives.

1. Seek help.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

Depression, whether mild or severe, is treatable. Mild depression can turn into a more serious state of depression when left unchecked. Getting help is the best step to achieving recovery. Seek assistance from a doctor or a mental health professional.

Remember, depression is a common illness that affects millions. You should not feel alone, because you aren’t. the university counseling services in your school are willing to help you. The student center in your college or dorm can be a source of refuge as well. Counseling centers offer round-the-clock free or low-cost mental health services. At this stage, a professional may be able to diagnose and treat your depression.

2. Plan your day carefully.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

Allot time every day for your class work. The feeling that you get from taking control of your day gives a sense of satisfaction. Prioritizing can allow you to focus on what matters and what needs to be done.

A plan will help you get you out of bed. Every day, remind yourself to take a small action toward overcoming your depression. Focus on reframing negative thoughts or perceptions and unreasonable expectation of others. Know your strengths and capabilities, and explore ways to improve them. Let go of your unhealthy or unattainable goals.

3. Get enough sleep.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

It is almost impossible to get even a wink of sleep especially during midterms and finals, the peak season for academic requirements, and even if you do, the first thing you would probably do is scold yourself for even thinking of lying down. But getting enough 8 hours of sleep or even a few more hours helps our minds rest and refocus for the other tasks ahead. Take advantage of the power naps in between homeworks, or go to bed early when you have the chance.

Fatigue, when constant, can trigger depression. Stop deferring from doing important class works until the wee hours of the night. When you procrastinate and work through late evenings too much, you wake up exhausted and groggy. This will alter your mood and perception, and you can end up feeling indisposed the entire day. Focus on your overall well being, by first adopting a healthy sleeping schedule.

4. Do activities that you enjoy.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

As you make changes in your life to bring about less frustration, you will also need to find healthful outlets for dealing with these emotions that helps you redirect all the tension and worry into something more worthwhile.

May it be sports, going outdoors, fraternities and sororities, or student journalism, do what interests you. In order to take a closer step towards overcoming depression, find and do things that relax and energize you. Aside from the opportunity to meet like-minded people in the group, these activities may break your daily pattern of activities, which could be crucial to ending your depressive cycle.

While it is not easy to find pleasure in just about anything, you can push yourself to do things that will positively impact your day. Who knows, you might actually enjoy whatever it is you choose to do. Start with your former hobby—go back to the activity you used to enjoy the most.

While you try your best to enjoy life, do not expect to feel better outright. Appreciate the gradual changes in your mood. In due time, you will feel more upbeat and energetic.

5. Welcome emotional support from other people.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

People find comfort in connection because humans are conditioned to connect. It is a fundamental aspect of life, and without social connections, we all fall apart.

Welcome help from others – a roommate, a classmate, or an old friend. Friendships can make a tough situation and a strange and alienating place feel a lot like home. Talk to friends and classmates and vent with them—they most likely experience stress as well, just in different forms and due to different reasons than yours. Supporting each other is significant, whether by exchanging worries and sentiments or by studying together.

You can also list down other organizations and institutions you can also reach out.  Let these people come into your life. Let them make you realize that you are not alone. Some may have gone through the same experience and could offer you helpful advice while you recover. There is no shame in accepting help from those who care. 

6. Try relaxation methods.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

Simple relaxation techniques may positively impact your mood. It will help you escape stress and anxiety. Most importantly, it lets you manage your depression better and more consciously.

The idea of relaxation differs from one person to another. This may include meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, a warm bath, or long walks. Whatever reasonable activity that you find relaxing and alleviates your stress and discomfort, make it an outlet to relieve depression.

Try these methods:

  • Deep breathing: Deep, slow breathing exercise can help you let out anxiety and relax your entire body from head to toe. Integrate this exercise throughout the day or whenever the need arises.
  • Exercise: Try Yoga or any form of exercise. It offers a great physical benefit aside from relaxation. It incorporates meditation, balance, and deep breathing to encourage a positive mood.
  • Aromatherapy: Surround yourself with aromatic scents. This is a hassle-free technique that will surely lighten your mood.
  • Scribble your stress away: Doodling out your stress has a way of calming you down. Jotting down or scribbling on your notebook allows you to express your fears, concerns, and frustrations. Take a few moments each day to doodle or scribble.

7. Make time for yourself.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

A college student’s 24-hour cycle every day includes attending classes, doing homeworks and preparing for exams, and accomplishing other responsibilities. But you also deserve some “me” time, away from Twitter or your smartphone or other people. Have some quality time alone by talking a short walk outside or eating your comfort food.

Allow yourself to take well-deserved breaks. Experience life outside of the university; your life is limited to academics! Indulge in the visual or guided imagery of a relaxing vacation. Choose to go where you know you will be happy. College life does not need to be confined to the classroom or within the campus. Make the effort to experience all the sensations in your mind.

If a vacation is not possible, dedicate a few minutes a day to yourself. Focusing on yourself is an energizing experience that can bring you purpose and control over the events in your life. It is a crucial step to recovery.

8. Eat right.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

What you put in your body directly impacts your overall psyche or perception of self. Eat healthily. Take foods that negatively affect your mood out of your diet such as caffeine, alcohol, and food containing high levels of chemical preservatives.

More importantly, don’t skip meals. Skipping meals may add to your irritability and exhaustion. Eat at least every three hours. Minimize sugar, as well. Taking too much sugar brings the instant rush but quickly crashes your mood and energy. Cut out food that will eventually do more harm than good.

9. Work towards recovery.

The College Student's Guide to Deal with Depression

Be an active participant in your journey to recovery. This is the most important step in combating depression. Reclaim your college life and experience. Take responsibility for your life and your life choices.

You have the power to turn your story from victim to survivor. Gather all the strength you have in you to do it. Do not wallow in self-pity and instead focus on making a positive impact on others. It may appear to you that you are batting something so great but if it’s of any help to your change your perspective, realize that someone out there might have it worse.

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