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How To Deal With Depression in College

The blues, the blahs, mild depression—call it what you want, but between leaving home, getting too little sleep, and possibly even binge drinking or doing drugs, it’s no surprise that it affects over half of all college students at some point.


  • Step 1: Put off making important decisions about your career, love life, studies, and such until after your depression has lifted and you can think objectively.
  • Step 2: Visit home on long weekends or breaks. Call your old friends in advance and arrange to meet up.
  • Step 3: Know that it will take time to feel better and let your family and friends help you.
  • Step 4: Tell your parents. Yes, they do want to help. If you feel unable to tell them, tell a trusted older adult, such as a friend’s parent, professor, or counselor.
  • FACT: A 1999 study proved that regular exercise is as effective as anti-depressant medication in lifting depression.
  • Step 5: If your symptoms persist for more than two weeks, seek professional help.
  • Step 6: Begin going to the gym for a workout, yoga session, or swim. Remember, you’ll need to start slow and easy—and that’s ok. Research shows even 10 or 15 minutes of exercise can help improve your mood.
  • Step 7: Find a group on campus that participates in activities that you enjoy, such as theater, sports, or putting out the newspaper.
  • TIP: Ask yourself: Am I persistently sad, anxious, or empty? Am I sleeping or eating too much or too little? Have I had suicidal thoughts? Is it hard to concentrate or make decisions? Am I merely homesick or do I truly feel empty?
  • Step 8: Run through a checklist of symptoms to determine if you’re suffering through a stretch of “the blues” or struggling with true depression.
  • Step 9: If you have suffered from three or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks, you should share your feelings with a counselor.
  • Step 10: Start thinking positively. Negative views of yourself and others are part of the depression. By thinking positive, those thoughts start to fade.
  • Step 11: Surround yourself with others, especially people you trust, confide in, and engage with—not those who make you feel unwelcome or judge you for any reason.
  • Step 12: Set realistic goals—don’t try to do too much. Break large projects into smaller ones. Completing them will boost your confidence and put you in a good mood.
  • : These tips are intended to help cope with the blues, or mild depression—not serious or clinical depression. Consult with the appropriate medical personnel to discuss what treatment will be most effective for you.

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