Fall semester topics

A few words about depression

Depression is a serious condition. Depression is a disturbance in mood characterized by varying degrees of sadness, disappointment, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt, and guilt. Most people tend to feel depressed at one time or another, but some people may experience these feelings more frequently or with deeper, more lasting, effects. In some cases, depression can last for months or even years.

The most common type of depression is what is referred to as "feeling blue" or "being in a bad mood." These feelings are usually brief in duration and have minimal or slight effects on normal everyday activities.

In the next level of depression, symptoms become more intense and last for a longer period of time. Daily activities may become more difficult…but the individual is still able to cope with them. It is at this level, however, that feelings of hopelessness can become so intense that suicide may seem the only solution.

A person experiencing severe depression may experience extreme fluctuations in moods or even a desire for complete withdrawal from daily routine and/or the outside world.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression may affect one's life in any of the following ways:
Crying spells or, at the other extreme, lack of emotional responsiveness.

Changes in Feelings and/or Perceptions
˘ Inability to find pleasure in anything.
˘ Feelings of hopelessness and/or worthlessness.
˘ Exaggerated sense of guilt or self-blame.
˘ Loss of sexual desire.
˘ Loss of warm feelings toward family or friends.

Changes in Behavior and Attitudes
˘ Lack of interest in prior activities and withdrawal from others.
˘ Neglect of responsibilities and appearance.
˘ Irritability, complaints about matters previously taken in stride.
˘ Dissatisfaction about life in general.
˘ Impaired memory, inability to concentrate, indecisiveness, and confusion.
˘ Reduced ability to cope on a daily basis.

Physical Complaints
˘ Chronic fatigue and lack of energy.
˘ Complete loss of appetite, or at the other extreme, compulsive eating.
˘ Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping.
˘ Unexplained headaches, backaches, and similar complaints.
˘ Digestive problems including stomach pain, nausea, indigestion, and/or change in bowel habits.

Helping Yourself
Being honest with yourself about changes in mood or the intensity of negative feelings as they occur will help you identify possible sources of depression or stress. You should examine your feelings and try to determine what is troubling you - relationships with family or friends, financial responsibilities, and so forth. Discussing problems with the people involved or with an understanding friend can sometimes bring about a resolution before a critical stage of stress is reached. Even mild depression should be dealt with if it interferes with your effectiveness. You might also try to:

˘ Change your normal routine by taking a break for a favorite activity or something new - even if you don't feel like it;
˘ Exercise to work off tension, improve digestion, help you relax, and perhaps improve your ability to sleep;
˘ Avoid known stressors;
˘ Avoid making long-term commitments, decisions, or changes that make you feel trapped or confined - it is better to put them off until you feel you are better able to cope; and
˘ See a physician, especially if physical complaints persist.

Source information above was adapted from: Counseling Center at University of Illinois

  • Article about dealing with depression
  • Latest research on the topic
  • Testing yourself for depression
  • Recommended books

    William J. Knaus; Albert Ellis: The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step-by-Step Program. 2012.
    Phil Spencer: SUICIDE: How to Prevent and Deal with Suicidal Thoughts and Feelings. 2015.