Student guide to depression
Our moods as students vary from day-to-day and lecture-to-lecture. Sometimes it can be up and down during a single day. Everyone gets down at times; it's part of being human. It's very easy to get depressed at university, no matter who you are or your personality.
- See this page for more on student depression
We may say that we are 'fed up', 'down in the dumps', 'feeling blue' or we put it down to 'feeling under the weather'.
Am I depressed - or is it something else?
Although people often say 'I'm feeling depressed' when their mood is noticeably low, this would not be called depression in a clinical sense because it is likely to be part of this normal up and down cycle of life. Some people naturally experience frequent mood changes, whilst others seem to remain relatively stable.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical term, which covers a broad range of psychological distress. In its mildest form it can cause lowered mood, which does not stop you functioning in your normal life, but it can make life seem harder and less rewarding. At it's most severe, depression can be life threatening. You may feel like killing or harming yourself, or simply give up the will to live. Between these extremes depression can manifest in various degrees of severity.
Why do people get depressed?
Depression is a response to events or circumstances that are felt to be deeply troubling or distressing, or which seem to affect our sense of personal identity. Usually these circumstances seem too hard or even impossible to change. There can be sense of powerlessness, hopelessness and an all-pervasive gloom. Depression, which is triggered by a specific painful or shocking experience, is often referred to as 'reactive depression'.
However, sometimes people seem to get depressed for no obvious reason. In these cases, it may be when something that hurt deeply some time ago (or even years ago) begins to surface. Although it may be difficult to understand or cope with this, the experience is not uncommon. For example, on television, pictures about a traumatic accident, or death, can re-stimulate memories and possibly feelings and emotions attached to an earlier experience of your own. Feelings of loss and pain may surface again, or, indeed as if for the first time; particularly if following the original experience you were inhibited by age or circumstances from truly experiencing the emotional impact of the experience on you.
Sometimes though, the onset of depression seems not to be caused by events or experiences but by chemical or hormonal changes affecting our body chemistry. This is sometimes termed (especially if it is long-term) 'Endogenous depression'.
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