Depression is a serious mental health condition that can affect your life in a variety of ways. In simple terms, it is often described as being persistently sad for weeks or months at a time. However, it is much more complex than this; research conducted by the Mental Health Foundation (2001) found that more than one in ten university students suffer from clinical depression.
Depression affects different people in different ways, and has a huge variety of symptoms. At its most severe it can make you feel suicidal, and at its mildest it will consistently make you feel low. Depression can be difficult to manage alone. If you think you are suffering from depression, seek help and support from your GP.
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Spotting the signs
Depression manifests itself in many ways. If any of the following describe you, you should seek help as you may be suffering from depression.
- No motivation
- Keep crying
- Sleeping too much
- Can't sleep at all
- Feel anxious
- Everything and everyone is irritating
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Low mood
- Having suicidal thoughts
- Thoughts of harming yourself
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling helpless
- Restless and agitated
- Low or no sex drive.
What to do if you think you have depression
Remember that you are not alone - there is help and support available to you and you can learn to manage your symptoms. Just talking to someone you trust about how you feel is an important first step. There is plenty of professional support available, but never underestimate the importance of support from a good friend. You shouldn't feel ashamed about depression and you'll be amazed at how supportive people can be.
BU can help you as well - support available on campus includes our Student Support & Engagement Team, Student Wellbeing, Faith & Reflection and SUBU Advice. If you're in BU accommodation our ResLife team are there to support your wellbeing.
You can also try these suggestions to reduce the symptoms of depression:
- Seek support from and confide in someone you trust
- Keep active - regular exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood
- Try and do something you enjoy every day, even if it's just something small like taking a hot bath
- Try and eat healthy food - oily fish in particular is good for reducing depression symptoms
- Try and avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs as these can make depression worse
- Learn relaxation techniques such as Yoga and Mindfulness. Visit www.bemindful.co.uk to learn how to be mindful in your everyday life.
- Write down a list of anything that is bothering you
- Set yourself goals that are achievable and work towards them. This will give you a sense of achievement and help you feel like you are in control of your life.
You can always speak to your academic advisors
Depression may impact on your academic work and, depending on your circumstances, you may be entitled to an extension or postponement. Talk to your Academic Advisor, Programme Leader (PL) or Programme Support Officer (PSO) to find out more about Exceptional circumstances.
There is also more online help and support available on the A-Z Resources page.
Based on resources:
Mental Health Foundation, 2001. Promoting Student Mental Health. Scotland: Mental Health Foundation. [Accessed 6 February 2014].
Mind for better mental health, 2013. Depression. London: Mind. [Accessed 6 February 2014].
National Union of Students, 2014. Mental Ill Health. London: National Union of Students. [Accessed 6 February 2014].
NHS Choices, 2014. Clinical depression - symptoms. Gov.uk: NHS Choices. [Accessed 6 February 2014].