A: If you meant to say that you’ve been feeling depressed for a couple months, then maybe it’s a phase and you can get yourself through it. However, if you have really been feeling this way for 5-7 months, that’s a little more concerning and I think it would be wise to seek professional help. Most colleges and universities provide their own counseling centers for students so finding help should be fairly easy. If they don’t have their own services, the health clinic should be able to give you a list of referrals in the community. There’s no reason to feel embarrassed. Getting the appropriate help for any condition, medical or psychological, is the healthy thing to do. Keep in mind, also, that counseling is completely confidential. No one but you and your counselor will know the details.
Feeling down, having difficulty sleeping, having frequent (and sometimes unexplained) crying spells are all classic symptoms of depression. Feeling unmotivated and having difficulty concentrating are also common. The fact that you feel better some days doesn’t mean that there’s not a problem, but at least you can capitalize on those days by getting a lot accomplished, such as studying more, exercising or socializing with friends.
I’m really glad that you have initiated an exercise program. It does really help, but it’s also hard to be consistent when you aren’t feeling your best. Exercise doesn’t always have to take place at the gym either. Maybe just taking a walk around the block or running up the stairs would help as well. I also suggest cutting out processed foods, foods with high sugar content (such as soft drinks and sweets), and limiting alcohol consumption.
If you continue doing things on your own to get better, and seek some professional help, chances are that you will be back on track soon. However, I also like to caution people not to discontinue the things they are doing once they are feeling better, because it can lead to a backslide. It’s important to follow through with therapy, medication if prescribed, and self-care habits for quite a while to ensure long lasting effects. I hope you feel better soon.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts