Everyone feels sad or overwhelmed sometimes. If you’ve been feeling depressed for two weeks or more, or if your mood is starting to interfere with your course work, your job performance, or your relationships, you may be experiencing some symptoms of depression.

According to the American College Health Association, 40 percent of college students report feeling “so depressed it was difficult to function” at least once during the year. If you are depressed, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault. And there are things you can do to feel better.

Signs of Depression

  • Changes in the way you feel. You may feel hopeless, helpless, numb, pessimistic, irritable, or tearful most of the time.
  • Changes in sleep. Are you sleeping too much or too little? Do you have trouble going back to sleep if you wake up in the night?
  • Changes in appetite or weight.
  • Changes in your energy level, especially if you are chronically fatigued.
  • Changes in your view of yourself—feeling guilty, worthless, and incompetent.
  • Changes in your ability to concentrate.
  • Changes in your sense of pleasure. Things that used to be fun don’t interest you.
  • Changes in your body. These include headaches, aches and pains, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • Changes in your sense of time. Time seems to stretch out endlessly.
  • Changes in your thinking. Your perspective about yourself, others, and the future has become more negative.
  • Changes in your ability to solve problems. You feel helpless and powerless.
  • Thoughts about self-injury. This can include cutting, burning, or even suicide.

Take a self-assessment

CAPS offers a free, confidential online assessment to help you determine whether you’re in a temporary funk or if it’s something more serious. Take a survey and learn what the results indicate.

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Types of Depression

  • Major depression. Some people experience serious depressive symptoms that last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
  • Chronic depression. Some people experience long-lasting depressive feelings.
  • Bipolar disorder. Some people veer from periods of wild enthusiasm and energy (mania) to periods of low energy and despair (depression).

Causes of Depression

Depression is a complex condition. Causes can include biological, genetic, psychological, and environment factors. Some common causes include:

  • Neurotransmitters in the brain that may not function appropriately
  • Family history of depression
  • A stressful event, such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic experience, a disappointment, or a life change

Of course, sometimes depression occurs for no detectable reason at all.

Treating Depression

Depression is treatable. Approximately 80 percent of people who seek treatment find improvement.

Research suggests the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of medication and counseling.

Medication for Depression

Non-habit forming antidepressant medications work by mediating biochemical problems and are significantly helpful for many people with depression. Research has shown approximately 75 percent of people with depression who are treated with antidepressants respond positively to the first medication tried.

Counseling for Depression

Counseling also assists in many ways, including helping you:

  • Identify underlying contributors to the depressive episode
  • Learn techniques for coping with your stressors
  • Identify and modify your thinking patterns that contribute to depression
  • Plan positive actions to increase sense of control of your life
  • Work through grief, trauma or underlying longstanding conflicts that contribute to your depressive symptoms
  • Work on any substance abuse problems that might intensify your depressive symptoms