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Student life can be tough, and yes it’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and again. But, if those feelings don’t go away, or become so intense you have difficulty controlling them, you could be suffering from depression!

The facts 

depressed-college-student The mystery of depression is not that it exists — the mind, like the flesh, is prone to malfunction. Instead, what intrigues most is the prevalence of depression. While most mental illnesses are extremely rare — schizophrenia, for example, is seen in less than 1 percent of the population — depression is everywhere, as inescapable as the common cold.

However, what is less prevalent is the vast number of young adults affected. Every year approximately 14 percent of adolesants will fall victim to this repressive state of mind. Sadly, for those who suffer, it doesn’t require a mastermind to fathom. As your academic journey rears its ugly head marking the end of your cherished teenage years, the excitement of freshers will soon feel like a distant memory and students often resort to extreme measures to detract from the pain of their academic workload.  Some, unfortunately, find themselves forced into a sudden web of misery and henceforth become isolated from fellow students. More worrying, perhaps, is that instead of establishing control these students let emotion overpower any previous desire to succeed.

The good news is you don’t have to feel this way

Trust me, this is one problem which is better resolved now opposed to three months down the line. You might not agree. The world has turned its back on you, right? And, let’s be honest, you really are your own worst enemy. If thoughts like these sound familiar then it might be wise to listen up. Depression can be damaging when left untreated and without that all-important support needed to recover things can only get worse.  There is no ‘magic cure’ for depression, but most people recover and enjoy life again. Firstly, it helps to let others in – despite preconceptions your loved ones do not wish to see you suffer – and to be patient about taking small steps and building on them:

1: Start by accepting that you are depressed and it’s not your fault. Being angry or critical with yourself will only make things worse. Telling yourself to ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘snap out of it’ won’t help. The key to overcoming depression is to break the negative cycle of thinking where you become depressed or anxious about being depressed. If you find this happening, try to stop the negative thoughts. Some people shout ‘stop’ in their heads, or imagine traffic lights on red. Try to give yourself more encouraging messages: It’s not my fault I feel like this. I will get better – it takes time.

2: Challenge your negative expectations. Depression makes you interpret events in the worst possible light: ‘My flatmate didn’t speak to me when he came home – he’s clearly annoyed with me.’ Try to think of other explanations: ‘Perhaps he’s had a bad day… after all he did seem friendly this morning’ or ‘he’s probably hungover after successfully consuming the flats entire alcohol stash last night.’ Then think of which explanation in most likely.

3: Set yourself small and realistic challenges. Deciding you are going pull an ‘all-nighter’ to write an essay isn’t realistic if you haven’t been able to concentrate for weeks. Aim to work for a small amount of time (let’s say, half an hour). Reward yourself for your effort. If you don’t feel you’ve achieved much, remember that you are one stage further on than when you started.

4: Talk to people. Some of your friends may be worried about you and want to help. If going out feels too difficult, then meet for a coffee or talk to someone over the phone. Some people find it helpful to talk to others who have experienced depression. For more information please visit, www.depressionalliance.org – a national network for people suffering from depression.