How To Get Through a Depressive Episode

For the 1 in 5 of us college students battling depression, we know sometimes they can hit out of seemingly nowhere. When they do, it can feel like getting hit by a huge wave that drags you down under. It’s hard to work up to energy to even try to get better. Acknowledging this is the first step.

Call It What It Is

It can be really hard to even admit that you’re going through a rough patch. Especially after you maybe felt like you had been doing better. Many college students can feel like they’re doing well at first and then slump into a depressive episode later on. That can leave you feeling like you’ve failed, but know that it’s not your fault.

Clinical depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. Once you have it, it can take years to fully “cure”, and even then, it’s likely that you may relapse into what is called a “depressive episode”. That’s okay. That’s normal. That’s not your fault, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

What it means is that you might need a little bit more help. Which, brings us to our next point...

Reach Out to Others

It can be hard to tell others you’re going through a depressive episode. You don’t need to even tell them that. But you do need to reach out to others to let them know you might need a bit of extra help or time with things. If you’re talking to a professor, feel free to leave it at “a medical issue” if that’s all you feel comfortable sharing. That’s okay. But remember, the sooner they know, the sooner they can help you, so reach out as early as you can.

Get Yourself Outside

I have found that one of the single-most helpful things I can do for myself when I’m struggling with a depressive episode is to get myself outside. It’s a simple change of scenery that has an immediate impact. Whether the sun is out or it’s cold and windy, stepping outside for a little bit or just opening the window in your room to get some fresh air is so good for you. In a time of computer screens and spending our time in buildings that lack a lot of natural sunlight, getting a good amount of natural Vitamin D from the sun is getting harder and harder. So if you can, try to give yourself a few minutes outside, whether it’s in the morning, evening, or just spending 10 minutes sitting outside between classes. You body will thank you.

Exercise — or Just Go For a Walk

When depression is knocking at your door and you just want to crawl deeper under your covers, the last thing in the world you want to do can be to go exercise. But as we all know, exercise releases endorphins which are not only natural painkillers, but produce a natural body high, boosting energy levels and mood. Even a brisk morning walk can be enough to feel the effects.

Try to Practice Mindfulness

Yes, I know that I sound like your high school health teacher, but practicing mindfulness is actually a really great technique for lowering levels of stress in your body. Currently, most of us are functioning on a day-to-day basis under extreme levels of stress. As you can probably figure out, this really isn’t good for both our bodies and our mental state. Taking the time to focus on yourself, your surroundings, and your place in this world can help reduce stress levels exponentially.

Remember, no single one of these tips will “cure” your depressive episode. But being aware of your mental state and taking steps to try and counteract negative thoughts and feelings can help make things more bearable for you. Also remember that these tips work together; try practicing mindfulness outside while on a long walk. Set time aside to do something for yourself. Breathe in the fresh air and soak up the sunlight and remember that even though times can get rough, there is still beauty in this world that anyone can enjoy if they just give themselves the chance.