Depression is more than feeling sad. Like heart disease or diabetes, depression is a serious medical illness. It affects your thoughts, feelings, actions and health. But as with most other illnesses, depression can be treated.

Anyone can become depressed. Depression is caused by many things, including stress, medical illness, prescribed medications, alcohol or other drug use, family history, genetics, and psychiatric disorders.

Depression may not go away by itself. Without treatment, it can last for months or years. You need to take action to feel better. For people who are depressed the hardest thing to do is to reach out for help, but it is also the first step towards getting better.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life, even when something good happens
  • Eating too much or not enough
  • Difficulty sleeping or feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling that they don't measure up or that they aren't good enough
  • Forgetfulness
  • Having trouble thinking or making simple decisions
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thinking about harming themselves

A person with mild depression may have some of these symptoms for a short time. Sometimes symptoms last longer. They can keep the person from doing normal daily activities. Then the depression may be serious, and the person should contact a doctor or counselor.

Strategies for Taking Care of Yourself

  • Healing from depression takes time. Taking care of yourself can speed up the process.
  • Talk about your feelings with your friends, family or a therapist.
  • Eat three meals a day.
  • Make sure you get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay away from alcohol and other drugs. They can increase symptoms of depression.
  • Remember, try for progress, not perfection. None of us takes perfect care of ourselves all the time.
  • Look for the good things in life. For example, a nice sunset or a meal with friends can be a bright spot in your day. Focusing on good things can help you feel hopeful, and hopefulness can lead to healing.
  • Try to do the things you enjoyed before the depression set in. It is harder to feel bad when you are active.
  • Exercise. Walk, dance, or play a sport. Even a little exercise can help lift your mood.
  • Talk, laugh, joke and play. Good feelings often follow good times.
  • Volunteer or join a club.
  • Be patient with yourself. Most people do not overcome depression quickly.

Get Help

  • If you are using alcohol or other drugs to cope with depression, get help from a counselor, doctor, or other professional.
  • If you are considering suicide, or if you are afraid you will hurt yourself or someone else, get help now. Contact a counselor or campus security at 488-2663 or 471-6911.

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