What is it?
Depression is a prolonged and persistent negative mood lasting two or more weeks that can interfere with many aspects of your life. We’ve all felt down or sad at times, but when it becomes intense and lasts for an extended period of time it may be time to speak with a counselor about your concerns.
What Symptoms Might You Notice?
- Loss of interest in your usual activities and/or not getting pleasure from things that you usually find enjoyable
- Fatigue or low energy
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Sleeping too much
- Restlessness or slowness
- Trouble focusing, remembering things, or making decisions
- Loss of appetite and/or weight loss, or increased appetite and/or weight gain
- Feeling worthless and/or negative self-talk
- Feeling guilty and/or feeling like you’ve let people down
- Thoughts of suicide
How Prevalent is Depression?
Depression affects about 7% of American adults each year (NIMH, 2019), making it one of the most common mental health disorders. It is most prevalent in college-aged adults between 18 and 25 years old (NIMH, 2019).
Things you can do to alleviate depression:
Exercise: Taking care of your physical health makes a big difference for not only your body, but your mental health as well. And exercise doesn’t have to look any particular way! All it means is moving your body, which could look like taking a walk outside, doing some gentle stretches, or dancing to your favorite song. It’s important to move your body even if you don’t feel like it. The times you least feel like exercising are probably the times when you need it the most.
Keep up on your basic hygiene & routine: Lack of basic hygiene and forgoing your usual daily routine can increase feelings of helplessness and being out of control of your life, which contributes to feeling depressed. Implementing and maintaining consistency in your daily routine can help you take back some control and get out of a depressive rut.
Take baby steps: When you’re feeling depressed, even small things can feel difficult to manage, and it is easy to become overwhelmed. So instead of trying to tackle all of the chores that have been neglected, just pick one. If you don’t have the energy to cook a full meal, make a sandwich instead. If you don’t have the energy to even make a sandwich, just eat the ingredients separately. You have permission to take baby steps and break things into smaller, more manageable chunks. Doing something is better than doing nothing because you were too overwhelmed by how big the task felt.
Get social support: Depression has a way of making people feel alienated, isolated, and alone. Staying connected with others can reduce that sense of isolation and remind you that you are loved by others and have worth as a person. Getting social support might look like keeping up with social activities you used to enjoy, texting someone who makes you feel safe, or inviting a friend over to watch a movie with you.
Apps that help:
- Sanvello: Sanvello was created by clinical experts and uses techniques rooted in evidence-based treatments for depression like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness meditation. It also has a mood and self-care tracker to help you stay on top of your mental health.
- Daylio Mood Tracker: This app helps you identify patterns in the changes you may experience in your moods. Finding these patterns can help you figure out what events might trigger mood changes, which can help you better understand your mood and identify adjustments you can make to improve your mood.