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Moravian University
Counseling Center

Depression 

What is depression? 

Depression is more than just a feeling of sadness.  To better understand depression sometimes it is helpful to compare sadness to depression. 

  • Sadness is a normal, painful response to challenging life event, it usually passes when the challenging event passes, and  is something we all experience at some point in our lives
  • Depression may or may not include feelings of sadness, is a more persistent experience, may or may not arise out of a painful experience, so a person might not identify a reason for symptoms, and includes a cluster of symptoms.
  • Possible depression symptoms: increased or reduced sleep, changes to eating or weight, low mood or persistent sadness, fatigue or low energy, suicidal thoughts or preoccupation with death, loss of pleasure for things previously enjoyed, numbness or feelings of emptiness, changes to sex drive, withdrawing from friends, family, pets, increased frustration/agitation, lack of motivation. 

Help is Available  

Depression can look differently for different people. Some people are predisposed to experience depression. If there is a history of depression in your family, you may be more likely to become depressed. For some people, depression is a reaction excessive stress. Burning the candle at both ends, not sleeping, and more may trigger depression. Finally, some people seem to get "stuck" when dealing with a difficult negative experience and move from sadness to depression. 

If you believe you could be suffering from depression an important first step would be to contact the Counseling Center. Together with your therapist you will able to determine an appropriate treatment plan so you can start feeling better. 

If you, or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of suicide or are in a crisis that needs immediate attention please call Campus Police (610-861-1465) or dial 911. 

Improve your Mood 

In addition to professional support, there are certain behaviors and lifestyle changes you can implement on your own to help improve your mood over time. 

Physical activity/exercise. Physical movement has been shown to improve moods and help alleviate symptoms of depression. Start small, set realistic small goals and work your way from there. A 30 minute walk around our beautiful Moravian campus is a great start! 

Reach out and stay connected. Social support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to improve mood. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you're depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate. You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed of your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain responsibilities and relationships. However, staying connected to other people or taking part in social activities can help in regulating your moods. Below are some suggestions: 

  • Join one or more of the many student clubs on campus where you could engage in a shared activity
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend
  • Help someone else by volunteering
  • Talk to one person about your feelings
  • Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly
  • Accompany someone to the movies or a small get- together
  • Reach out to an old friend
  • Take a walk outside with a classmate or friend
  • Schedule a weekly dinner outing or coffee break meet-up
  • Talk to a counselor or clergy member  

Engage in pleasurable activities. While you can't force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can push yourself to do things, even when you don't feel like it. Even if your depression doesn't lift immediately, you'll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for positive activities. The range of these possible activities can be endless, but might include things like picking up a former hobby or sport you use to like, or expressing yourself creatively through music, art, or writing, or spending time out in the nature. 

Sleep & eat healthy. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep is important and whether you are well rested or tired can impact your moods. For help with sleep visit our sleep page. Healthy nutrition is also important. Minimize processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. Also, limited or avoiding substance use or alcohol consumptions is often helpful when trying to improve moods. 

Additional resources

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