1.) Seek help immediately. Be aware of sudden changes with your concentration and emotions. When things don’t feel right, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Depression can be a time-consuming condition to treat. It can take months of psychotherapy and medication to start getting back on track. It can also progress if left untreated. Many colleges and universities have free counseling centers. Research how to make an initial appointment, and follow through.
2.) Set a sleep schedule. Budget your time for about 8 hours of nightly sleep, but no more. Your urge to sleep is going to be strong, but you must be disciplined. Indulging in long naps whenever you feel like it will spin your sleep-wake cycle out of control. Too much sleep can also make you feel even more tired. Sleep can become a tempting escape when the world around you is sad and overwhelming, but realize that the world isn’t going to be any different when you wake up. You need to be proactive in treating your depression, and sleep is hardly proactive. Instead of taking an unnecessary nap, research counselors in your area, go for a jog, or get a head start on your next term paper.
3.) Talk with your professors. Most professors are more understanding than you might think. You are probably not the first depressed student they have ever encountered. While they may not be able to lift your deadlines or give you a special curve on your exams, they will likely admire your self-awareness, bravery, and courage. Your professors will be aware that there is a reason why you might be struggling, and are not just another lazy, underachiever.
4. Eat. Not too much. Not too little. People with depression may notice an increase or decrease in appetite. Not consuming enough calories will make the body weak and lethargic, making being a student even more challenging. Eating too much offers no real solution to your problems, and weight gain can only contribute more towards your feelings of worthlessness. The last thing a depressed person needs is another hurdle to overcome.
5.) Find a solid support network. Determine the people who really matter in your life, and tell them about your situation. True friends will be more than eager to help. A solid support network helps to keep you accountable for school and personal responsibilities. It can be harder to disappoint a friend than it is to disappoint yourself. The support network also gives you someone to talk to on a daily basis to help alleviate any feelings of loneliness and despair.
6.) Create To-do lists. You can eliminate some feelings of being overwhelmed by taking a close look at all the tasks you must accomplish in an allotted period of time, and create a time schedule that can help make it happen. Having a plan and sticking with it makes it more difficult to procrastinate and let any negative feelings prevent you from accomplishing your goals. A written list can guide you more easily than the cluttered chaos going on in your head.
7.) Exercise. Exercise hakes up the chemistry in the brain as well as the body. Exercise alleviates stress and provides depressed people with an outlet for their frustrations and sense of control. Psychiatrists are starting to recommend exercise as a supplement to depression treatment. Staying in shape is an added perk.
8.) Leave your dorm/apartment. Get out. Go for a walk. Go to a concert. Have a picnic in a park. Anything will do as long as you get out. Dorms and student apartments tend to be small, enclosed places that can leave a depressed person feeling claustrophobic and trapped. This may increase subconscious feelings of despair and anxiety. Getting outdoors and exposing yourself to the sights and sounds of life around you may help you feel more at ease, even if it’s only an extra hour a day.
9.) Know your limits. Work as hard as you can, but know that everyone has their limits. if you come across something that you just can’t do, don’t force yourself. Be honest with your professors about why you are unable to turn something in, and do the best you can to work around it. If you pressure yourself to go beyond your limits, you may be tempted towards academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty charges can derail your academic future completely. It’s better to do the best you can and work around your shortcomings than to try to be Superman.
10.) Consider a medical withdrawal. Sometimes you can be in so deep that finishing a semester is not possible. What good is it to finish a semester anyway if all you have to show for it is F’s and D’s? Taking a medical withdrawal is not an admission of failure. Rather, it can sometimes be the best long-term decision. Make sure you know the conditions required for you to return to school. Don’t worry about how far behind this may put you. You have to take care of you first.