Coping with depression
Coping with Depression
We would always encourage students to think carefully what can be done to help themselves and to seek appropriate support. There are many support systems in place in school. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, student wellbeing is very important to us.
Symptoms of depression may include:
No longer feeling pleasure from activities you once enjoyed
Lack of self-worth, hopeless or guilty
Isolating yourself from people and/or wanting to withdraw socially
Chronic fatigue or tiredness, lack of energy, lack of interest
Irritability and/or restlessness
Indecisiveness and/or poor concentration
Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
In some cases, thoughts of hurting yourself
Why does someone become depressed?
Common reasons in a student population might be: loss of a person or significant relationship, leaving home, academic difficulties, parental or family conflict, worry or concern about the future, being bullied, not fitting in with the crowd, to name a few. Other environmental and biochemical factors may also play a role in depression. What should I do if I feel depressed? Take time first to consider why you might be feeling this way now. In some cases, feeling low is an appropriate reaction to difficult life events. Mild to moderate depression can be an expected, temporary response to serious emotional challenges. For example, following a bereavement, deep sadness or intense grief can resemble depression. If you think you might be feeling somewhat depressed but want to try self-help in the first instance, here are some ideas:
Build more structure into your day, make plans.
Set small daily goals and stick to them. Many students with low mood become more depressed when they have too much thinking time on their hands.
Increase your level of physical activity, walk, swim, jog, work out, etc. Get plenty of rest and sleep, but do not overdo it.
Eat balanced nutritious meals and cut down on processed and refined foods. Poor nutrition can lower mood and deplete your energy.
Allow yourself to experience your feelings. If you need to cry, do so. If you are angry, find a safe way to express that anger a little at a time. Denying or blocking feelings may work in the short-term but can lead to greater emotional difficulties later. Keeping a diary can be one way to express your feelings as opposed to bottling them up.
Develop a support system
When feeling low or discouraged, you will need help and support from those who are positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Avoid people who are draining or who inflict damage on your sense of self-worth and your self-esteem.
Seek professional help
If your mood does not improve, if you feel self-destructive or if depression is significantly interfering with daily life, speak to a responsible adult who may suggest making an appointment with your GP. Speak to a member of your family or your support network at school if you need advice on seeking the right help.
How can I help someone else who may be depressed?
The most important thing to remember is to remain supportive even though this can be a challenging. Blaming the person for their depression or trying to make them “snap out of it" can often make things worse.
LISTEN to what is being said
Active listening does not require that you necessarily agree or disagree with your friend. The important part is that you accurately hear what the person is saying so he or she feels heard and understood.
Be HONEST and SPECIFIC
Let the person know that you want to help and are willing to support them. It is important to express your thoughts and observations in a non-judgemental way. Keep an open mind about what might be going on.
Express any CONCERNS
Let your friend know if you are concerned for their safety or health, and that you have told them so because you care about their welfare.
Offer your RECOMMENDATIONS
For example, if you think your friend should seek counselling or medical help, let them know your honest opinion. Provide information and offer to accompany them- but don’t force your recommendation on them. Sometimes a person needs time to reflect or to pursue alternative options first.
Know your LIMITS
Don’t assume responsibility for ‘curing’ your friend’s depression or for providing a 24-hour crisis service. It is good to be supportive, but you also have your own life to lead. Don’t attempt to offer a level of help that gets you out of your depth, there are experts for this.