Depression is a disturbance in mood that is a marked change from a person’s normal mood. It can include having feelings of sadness, inadequacy, guilt, hopelessness, distress, worthlessness, loneliness, and/or disappointment. Normal people experience depression from time to time, but for some, depression can be more intense, more frequent and last longer. It can become problematic if it causes a person to feel deep emotional pain and to have difficulty functioning at their normal level. For example, some people have trouble getting out of bed to go to work or classes, or can’t seem to study. When depression starts interfering with a person’s life and ability to get things done, or when it causes a person to feel miserable much of the time, seeing a counselor can make a big difference.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression can range from being mild to severe. Therefore, not everyone who is depressed will have all of the symptoms listed below – but everyone who is depressed will have some of them.
Changes in Feelings Changes in Behavior Physical Complaints
• Depressed mood
• Feelings of worthlessness and/or guilt and/or hopelessness
• Lack of pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable
• Decreased sexual desire
• Low self esteem • Isolation and Withdrawal
• Concentration Problems
• Crying Spells
• Suicidal Thoughts
• Neglect of Appearance and/or Responsibilities • Sleep problems (too little or too much)
• Appetite changes (loss of appetite or overeating)
• Weight change
• Lack of energy, fatigue
• Physical problems
Causes of Depression
There is no single cause of depression; it can be caused by a wide variety of things. Depression might be the result of an upsetting life event like the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Or, it might be due to other kinds of things such as personality, biological and/or genetic factors, environmental stressors, physical illness, maladaptive thought patterns, etc. Certain substances, like alcohol and some drugs (even some prescription drugs) can also bring about depression. Sometimes there is no obvious reason for feeling depressed. No matter what the cause of the depression is, it can be helpful to learn more effective strategies and coping skills for dealing with it.
There are a lot of things you can do to get control of your depression. The first step is recognizing the change in your mood. This can serve as a cue, or trigger for you to take action. Suggestions for some of the things you might try are listed below:
• Learn to decrease negative self-talk and self-defeating thoughts
• Increase physical activity; exercise has been shown to decrease depression
• Spend time with friends; fight the urge to withdraw and isolate yourself
• Learn relaxation techniques – depression and anxiety often go hand in hand
• Increase pleasurable activities, even if you don’t feel like it
• Set goals and award yourself for accomplishing them
• Learn how to be assertive – assertive people feel better about themselves
• Avoid substance abuse; some drugs (for example alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, inhalants and certain prescription medications) can cause or complicate depression
• Seek professional help if your depression lasts more than two weeks, interferes with your normal functioning, or causes deep emotional pain
Loyola University Counseling Center: Rm 208, Dana Student Center, 504-865-3835
24-hour Crisis Line: If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, call the UCC at 504-865-3835 and Press 1 to speak to the Counselor On-Call.