Helping Yourself

Regardless of the cause of depression, there are several steps that can be taken to cope more effectively.

If you are depressed, a wise step is to visit a physician for a thorough check-up. He/she will be able to rule out the presence of any physical illness that may be responsible for the symptoms or can help make a diagnosis of depression. If the problems have a physical origin, a physician can prescribe the proper treatment. JBU students can contact Health Services for assistance in scheduling an appointment with a physician.

Counseling is another helpful option for many depressed people. A counselor can help you discover the reasons for your depression and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. Counseling by professionally trained staff is available free of charge to JBU students and is confidential. Check the Services area on our web site to learn more about counseling at JBU.

When depressed, it is important to resist the natural inclination to withdraw from others. Seek out a friend in whom you can confide. If you think you shouldn't trouble anyone, remember that you would be happy to listen to a friend who was in similar circumstances.

Because depressed people lack energy they often cut back on exercise and physical activity. But, research has demonstrated that exercise provides people with an emotional "lift." You may have heard of the "jogger's high." Exercise such as swimming, jogging or aerobics actually produces changes in one's brain chemistry. It also provides the person with a feeling of accomplishment, a rare feeling for the depressed person. Resist the impulse to sit and "vegetate." Go to that ball game, floor party or club meeting. Remind yourself that it is "good therapy," even if you don't think you will enjoy it. In the long run, it pays off.

Procrastination is a common feature of a depressed individual's life. The longer things are put off, the heavier they weigh on you, and the more depressed you become. The best way to conquer the procrastinator in you is to make a list of tasks to complete and write them into your schedule. Do one thing for a period of time, say half an hour, and then reward yourself by doing something enjoyable for a short time. You might ask a friend to be your "coach" and to monitor you for a while.

Depression can hamper a person's ability to concentrate and remember information- which makes studying and test taking especially difficult. If depression is interfering with your academic performance, it's important to seek help as soon as possible, to prevent lowering your grades or getting behind in your class work. When students are depressed, they sometimes become so embarrassed by their poor performance that they stop going to class to avoid facing their professors. But it's important to speak with your professor and/or adviser to let them know what is going on.

It is often advisable to avoid making major life decisions during a time of depression. You may want to defer some tasks or decisions until you are feeling well again and your outlook towards the future is more hopeful, and you are feeling more confident about yourself.

One of the best ways to help yourself is to learn as much as you can about depression. Check out the Internet Resources area of our site to find links to further information about depression and other mood disorders.