Depression occurs when someone's mood is characterized by a number of feelings, including sadness, disappointment, loneliness, hopelessness, self-doubt, and guilt. Many people feel depressed at some point in their lives, but often they can revive and rejuvenate themselves and return to a more upbeat mood. Some people, though, can experience depression more frequently, for a longer period of time, or more intensely. In these instances, daily activities become difficult. Sometimes hopelessness increases to the point of thinking about suicide. In these instances, talking to a counselor is recommended for support and advice on how to relieve the symptoms and return to a more fulfilling and active state of mind.

So what are the symptoms of depression?

There are several signs and symptoms of depression, including the following:

Changes in feelings:

  • Difficulty finding pleasure in anything
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Feeling guilt or self-blame

ChangesChanges in behaviors and attitudes:

  • Lack of interest in things you used to do
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Irritability
  • Dissatisfaction with life in general
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things

ChangesPhysical complaints:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite, or over-eating
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Digestive problems, including stomach pain, nausea, indigestion
  • Unexplained headaches or backaches

What causes depression?

Depression may be caused by psychological, biological or genetic factors. It also may result from negative life events or drug or alcohol use. When a person can identify the source of the depression, that individual can often use familiar coping strategies to move through the depression. If, however, the cause of the depression is unclear and the individual's familiar coping strategies do not work to reduce the depression, the symptoms can intensify and last longer.

Who can you turn to for help for depression?

There are ways to address depression. Sometimes, you can take steps to improve your mood. You can talk about your problems and your symptoms with someone you trust. Talking can help externalize your feelings so they are not all bottled up inside. You can switch up your normal routine and do a favorite activity you haven't done in awhile. You can exercise to reduce tension, improve your digestion, help you relax, and maybe improve your sleep. And you can avoid things that add stress to your life.

Sometimes, seeing a professional can be helpful to address depression. That can be your doctor, a counselor or therapist, or a psychiatrist. Mental health professionals can help identify possible causes of depression and make recommendations about the best way to treat your depression. On campus, you can call the Residential Life Counselor at (415) 405-4415 or the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at (415) 338-2208 for professional guidance regarding your depression.