Advice for students
Healthy Body - Healthy Mind
Be aware that drugs & alcohol are depressants, the most sensible thing to do is to avoid them, however if this is unrealistic for you be mindful of how much and how often you consume them. Likewise, there are likely to be lots of new, fun and exciting opportunities to get involved with, but try and make sure that late nights don't seriously outnumber a good night's sleep. Sleep is really important for our mental health, regularly missing out could lead to a bout of depression.
Exercise boosts the feel-good hormones in our brains, helping to lift our mood and you might find the extra activity helps you sleep better. Keeping active also reduces stress, and we often gain a sense of achievement by meeting goals we have set for ourselves. When you are depressed, set small goals, a short 10 minute walk can be a massive accomplishment.
Feeling good is about looking after our minds and our bodies. With depression we can feel overwhelmed by our emotions and struggle to get motivated, and our physical health can suffer as a result. The worthlessness and exhaustion that comes with depression often makes it harder for us to take good care of our bodies, and over time this can do even more damage to our confidence and self-esteem. Depression often comes with low self-esteem and poor body image, but focusing on nutrition rather than losing/gaining weight can help to keep things more positive. But don't forget the odd treat can be a nice reward and is nothing to feel guilty about!
Read Owen's blog post on nutrition
Study Well - Avoid Stress
Keep on top of your workload and avoid last minute panics! Timetables and lists can be useful for providing structure and focus for your studies as well as giving you clear goals and a routine, a helpful tool in managing depression. Think about timetabling in slots for other activities too as part of the 5 ways to wellbeing.
Read Sandy's blog about writing lists
Going to university can be a huge life change, especially if you are moving away on your own.
It is normal to experience homesickness if you are moving away and it can feel a lot like depression. The University of Cambridge Counselling Service has a useful way of helping you to work out the difference.
Those who experience homesickness might notice an increase in depressed feelings, anxiety, obsessive thoughts and minor physical ailments. Homesickness can often be distinguished from depression in this way - in depression sufferers find both university and home awful, whereas in homesickness university can feel awful while home may be seen in rose-tinted hues.
Keeping in touch with old friends and family can help but make sure you also get as involved with your new life and surroundings as you can. Making new friends, experiencing new things and creating new routines will help you to overcome these feelings. However, if you do feel you can't shake your homesickness it may be that you are experiencing something else, like depression, so it is important to ask for help if you need it.
Create a new support system
Getting involved with your new university life is a great way to feel connected and part of a community.
Looking out for others and offering your own support when needed can also be a great way to help yourself too. A good way to do this is by joining our Friends in Need community where you can give and receive online support from others who are affected by depression and create social meet ups for people in your area who are affected by loneliness, isolation or depression. www.friendsinneed.co.uk
Asking for help when you start to feel unwell, may minimise the impact depressive episodes have on your life. If you feel comfortable doing so, consider sharing with a new friend, housemate or member of staff that you are or have suffered from depression. You could discuss what help and support you might need so that if needed, they have a plan to help you cope.
You might also find that talking to someone you don't know is helpful; services such as Nightline & The Samaritans are great, anonymous and non-judgemental ways to talk to someone about how you are feeling.
Do your research. If you are feeling depressed, it can sometimes be hard to find the energy and motivation to seek out the help you need. Finding out what support and services are available when you are well can make getting help when you need it a little easier.
Most universities have wellbeing services ranging from practical financial and academic advise to more therapeutic services such as counselling and more personal support. Find out what services are on offer and how to access them. The University Mental Health Advisers Network has information on the wellbeing services offered at universities across the UK. We've complied a list of links to university wellbeing services here.
If you are moving away to university and you are already affected by depression, make one of your first tasks registering with a GP, especially if you are taking medication.
You can find a list of GPs on the NHS website:
Looking after yourself at university doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the fun, in fact keeping healthy just means you will be able to enjoy the fun for a lot longer.
• Samaritans http://www.samaritans.org/
• Nightline http://nightline.ac.uk/
To chat online or arrange meet ups in your area, register for our Friends in Need community www.friendsinneed.co.uk
To get started fundraising for Depression Alliance email us at firstname.lastname@example.org