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Understanding Depression

It’s normal for individuals to have periods of sadness throughout their life. Trauma, dramatic life changes or loss can trigger feelings of sadness or even bouts of depression. However, intense or long-lasting depression may be cause for concern. The first step to getting help is understanding the symptoms of depression.


Depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder, doesn't just influence you emotionally. It can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life. Although each person may encounter it differently, here are some common warning signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing clinical depression:


  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Decrease or increase in appetite
  • Unexplained physical ailments
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Tearfulness, frequent crying
  • Desire to self-harm


  • Lack of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Spending more time alone and/or avoiding others
  • Neglect of appearance or hygiene
  • Decreased performance at school or work

Thoughts and Emotions

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depressed mood
  • Feeling sad or gloomy
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
Student at computer
Causes of Depression
Depression doesn’t have just one cause. There can be various contributing factors, including genetics, trauma, life circumstances, other medical conditions, substance misuse or abuse, or seasonal changes.

While you may not know the specific cause for depression (and there may not be an obvious one), it can be helpful to be aware of factors that may be contributing to it, as that can impact appropriate coping mechanisms.


Major Depressive Disorder is highly treatable, but can last months or even years if left untreated. There are a variety of proven methods for treatment, including counseling and/or medication prescribed by a physician.

If you experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks, or notice any of the following, you should seek the help of a mental professional immediately:

  • Feelings of unrelenting hopelessness or apathy
  • Lack of desire to move forward
  • Inability to see past the pain or make decisions
  • Symptoms which make it impossible to function in daily tasks
  • Suicide seems like a viable form of escape
Students talking on steps

Self-Help Coping Techniques

There are many actions individuals can try on their own to alleviate mild to moderate symptoms of depression. Such actions include:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Build a support system and spend time with positive people
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Engage in pleasurable activities
  • Avoid known stressors and negative people when possible
  • Do something creative or take up a new hobby
  • Seek opportunities to serve others
Thoughts and Emotions
  • Focus on the present
  • Notice and challenge negative self-talk
  • Focus on the positive and express gratitude


Ensign College Counseling Services

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Ulifeline Mental Health Resources for College Students

Church of Jesus Christ Mental Health Resources

National Alliance of Mental Illness

Psychology Today

Need Help? Don't Wait.

If it feels like there's no other option--please know that there is! Don't wait, there are people who can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They also offer a chat option through their website, .

*Please note that selecting any of the outside links above will redirect you away from Ensign College's website. Because websites are constantly changing, Ensign College does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of this information.


The Student Success Center is here to help! Please contact us with any further questions at 801-524-8151.

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