Everyone feels sad, sometimes for no apparent reason. But this usually passes within a few days. Depression is a persistent low mood often characterized by a sense of heaviness, weariness, the inability to enjoy life, or irritability, hopelessness or other features. Depression can look a little different for everyone. Left untended, it tends to worsen, leading to very serious problems, including harming oneself or suicide. Fortunately, there are things you can do before it becomes a crisis.
When we eat a balanced diet, we nourish our whole body—including our brains. We get the mix of nutrients and vitamins, fats and proteins, etc., and calories to fuel proper functioning. This allows to cope with daily stresses and find creative solutions to problems.
It can hard to say which comes first. Sleeping can get jacked up by depression. And we can show some of the symptoms of depression when we’re not sleeping regularly. Most people perform best with 7-8 hours of sleep per 24 hours. This gives our bodies time to repair and replenish themselves, and it gives our brains time to process the day’s events. Fully rested, we have greater bandwidth to tackle whatever comes our way.
It’s easy (and very common) to want to want to withdraw and isolate oneself when don’t feel well. Our minds make up stories that no one cares, or that everyone is too busy with their own lives. It’s also easy to look around and imagine that everyone else is happy and successful getting all As without even trying. Even though this isn’t accurate. Most importantly, when you do reach out—to a friend, family member, counselor, instructor, or whomever—be honest. Try sharing a little about how you’re feeling. You might discover that they can relate.
Most of the history of our species has been spent outside. We aren't designed to be inside, sedentary in artificial light nearly as much as our modern lifestyles encourage us to be. We need sunlight, fresh air, and movement. Our bodies need it, and our mood needs it.
Exercising can have short- and long-term benefits for your mood. In the short term, it’ll release endorphins which, put simply, feel good. Sometimes, this can be enough to jolt us out of a funk. Research also indicates that those who exercise are less likely to be depressed than those who don’t exercise, and that people who stop exercising tend to start feeling depressed.
Join a group. Or start a group. There are almost sixty student-run groups on campus, and tons more opportunities to get involved beyond that. Involvement lends structure to your day, gets you out of your room or house, connects you with your peers and friends, and hopefully connects you with something you enjoy, too.
Track your habits and thoughts with this free app to support managing depression.
Track your mood, cultivate motivation and self-confidence, and work toward your personal goals with this free app.
Sometimes it's hard to know where to look to find people with similar interests. Fill out FLC's brief student connection questionnaire to get connected with others on campus.