All of us have felt “down” or discouraged at times when things were not going well. There are normal variations in moods over time and even day-to-day. However, depression is a disturbance in mood where you may feel particularly unhappy, discouraged, lonely, or negative toward yourself. It may affect you academically, socially, romantically, or even in relationships with family members.

Depression may range from mild to severe depending upon the associated symptoms and the extent the condition interferes with everyday functioning. In milder forms, depressed moods are usually brief and may have little effect on everyday activities. Moderate to severe depression includes symptoms that are more intense, last longer, and tend to interfere more with school, work and social functioning.

Depression is one of the most common mental health concerns that affects people from all walk of life. In some cases, symptoms of depression are mild, short term, and minimally disruptive to overall functioning. However, when symptoms are persistent and more intense, many areas of daily life—classes, jobs, social and personal relationships, and family—can be significantly affected. Such cases require professional attention that may include talk therapy.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Decreased interest or pleasure—even in activities that you used to enjoy
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, or hopeless
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Fatigue
  • Indecisiveness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts, feelings, or behaviors
  • Easily distracted and forgetful
  • Restlessness
  • Decreased energy
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment

Depression is more than feeling sad. It can involve a few or many of the symptoms listed above and it can take place even if there is not a particular event or situation causing it to happen. It is important to know that depression is not having a “bad day,” and depression does not reflect any weakness in character. Depression can be painful and disruptive for the person experiencing it, and it can often be difficult to ask for help. It is important to remember depression is a real, treatable illness and is nothing to be ashamed about. If you are feeling depressed, tell someone how you are feeling: a friend, family member, counselor, doctor, advisor, professor, spiritual guide, etc.

What to Do If You Feel Depressed

First, take some time to think about why you are sad. Oftentimes, feeling sad is an appropriate and expected reaction to a situation. However, if your symptoms and “down” feelings persist for multiple weeks, are significantly interfering with your social or academic life, or if you have any thoughts of self-harm, it is recommended that you contact the Counseling Center and schedule an appointment to meet with one our counselors.

For more information on depression:

Coping Skills

  • Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings. Even if you are not ready to talk about the depression, spend time with people, and fight the urge to isolate yourself.
  • Keep track of your feelings by writing them in a journal or using a mood tracking app.
  • East consistent meals of nutritious food.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Get outside or out of your room and do anything (see a movie, go to a ball game, attend a religious service, go to a club or organizational meeting, study at a coffee shop, walk in nature, play with a pet, etc.).
  • Engage in some mild exercise.
  • Use positive, realistic self-talk and challenge negative, distorted thinking. Consider saying daily self-affirmations.
  • Find balance through yoga, meditation, or prayer.
  • Accept help from others.
  • Be patient with yourself as your mood and motivation slowly begin to improve.
  • Set realist goals for yourself.
  • Use journaling. Write down your experiences and feelings, or maybe try a gratitude list.
  • Participate in activities that you used to enjoy even if they don't seem like fun right now.
  • Break up large tasks or assignments into small ones. Be patient with yourself, as it may be more difficult to complete tasks or take longer than usual.
  • Engage in random acts of kindness, or seek out volunteer work.
  • Seek out professional assistance.


The Counseling Center offers a number of services geared toward exploring, processing, and managing concerns with depression, including:

  • Short-term counseling
  • General therapy groups

To begin services, please contact the IUP Counseling Center at or call 724-357-2621.