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What is Depression?

"Depression" is classified as a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. It affects that way a person thinks, feels, and acts and can lead to a variety of physical and emotional issues. Commonly referred to as "Major Depression, Major Depressive Disorder, or Clinical Depression," Depression is more than just "the blues" or something an individual can just "snap out of," it is a persistent disorder that may long-term treatment in the form of medication and psychotherapy.

How do I know if I have Depression?

Depression can manifest itself in a multitude of symptoms. Although most people experience more than one episode of Depression, others may only experience Depression one time in their lives. During these episodes, many symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day, and may include, but not limited to:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessnes
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

What causes Depression?

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to the onset of Depression, including but not limited to:

  • Biological Differences
    • Genetics
    • Physical changes in the brain
  • Brain Chemistry
    • An inbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as Serotonin, play a key role in the onset of depressive symptoms
    • Hormonal changes
  • Life Events
    • Traumatic events, such as death, financial stress, academic stress, etc. can trigger depressive symptoms

What can I do?

Depression is not a disorder that you can typically treat on your own. If you think you may be suffering from Depression, please contact Counseling Services (618-650-2842) to schedule an appointment with a counselor. In addition to seeing a counselor, the following are things you can do to care for yourself and help alleviate the symptoms:

  • Stick to the treatment plan (even if you are feeling better)
    • Not missing counseling sessions
    • Not skipping medication doses

Even if you are feeling better, it is important to continue to see your counselor and regularly take medications to ensure that depressive symptoms do not return.

  • Education yourself about Depression
    • Education can empower and motivate you to adhere to your treatment plan
    • Encourage family and friends to educate themselves about Depression and what to expect during an episode
  • Pay attention to triggers
    • Make a plan of action so you know what to do if symptoms worsen
    • Contact your counselor if you notice a difference in symptoms
  • Exercise and eat healthy
    • Physical activity reduces symptoms
    • A healthy lifestyle can foster activities that boost self-esteem
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs
    • Alcohol is classified as a "depressant" so it can actually worsen symptoms
    • Other Drugs can also worsen symptoms and make it more difficult for the depressive symptoms to subside
    • Especially when regularly taking prescribed medication

Retrieved from Mayo Clinic

Books on Depression

  • Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger & Christine A. Padesky
  • The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive
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