There is another side to all the fun and excitement of student life, a side that most people don’t like to talk about. It’s called depression. There are many different reasons why people experience depression, and it is yet unknown how many people suffer from it. Fact is too many. The exact figure may never be known because people don’t like to talk about it, are ashamed, or simply don’t know it.
How do you find out whether you are depressed or not?
It’s not only feeling a bit blue, but it can be quite debilitating. Even though many of those symptoms can go either way or differ in severity, we’d like to list a few here:
- Generally, there can be an absence of everything positive.
- Feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, and possibly thinking everyone hates you.
- Change in sleeping patterns (too much or not enough sleep, insomnia).
- Change in eating habits (overeating, comfort eating, not enough/regular eating); loss of appetite.
- Feeling helpless, irritable, or guilty.
- Feeling tired all the time.
- Isolating yourself, rather than being with others and pursuing a social life. At the same time possibly feeling lonely.
- In more serious cases, self-harm or even worse than that.
All these symptoms seem quite obvious when you see them written down. In reality, however, they might be difficult to spot. It could be because of your perception. It might actually be far from reality. Remember it is subjective. If you are indeed depressed, it’s likely that ‘depression’ gives you a justification for just about anything. It is very difficult for a depressed person to be objective.
Also, the onset of depression can be so subtle that it is, indeed, difficult to notice. There is a lot of frustration around. A frustration that sometimes can be controlled, or easily slip into darkness. Ask a good friend or family member. But be careful whom you talk to. Remember, you need objective feedback, not blame.
How to take care of yourself
Here are a few steps that may help you to keep your life uncomplicated, and stop the dark clouds from gathering above you.
- Most importantly, look after yourself! Self-care is vital in the management of depression.
- Put purpose in your life. This might mean finding a hobby or some kind of work, even if it’s voluntary.
- Make an effort to get out of bed, and make the bed as soon as you get up. Take a shower.
- Getting into a routine helps you to start the day.
- Don’t feel guilty about your condition.
- Ask for help. People like to help. You are not a burden on anyone, never.
- Eat healthier and regularly. Make it a routine. Don’t over-eat.
- Keep a journal, make a list of your plans/goals, and keep track of your success.
- Sleep if you’re tired, and get up if you can’t sleep. Do some exercise.
All this is only part of what you can do to fend off depression and gain control of your life. However, if it takes over your life, you should talk to a health professional. Some people need medication to get better, others turn to therapy, while some need a combination of both.
Special thanks to Wolfgang Wolf for providing us with this article. Wolf is author, counsellor, philanthropist, speaker and so much more. He is currently living in Auckland, New Zealand, and he regularly talks to students of Community Development, Social Work and Nursing.