Breaking isolationDepression thrives in conditions of social isolation and loneliness. Breaking this isolation and reaching out to others for support is a powerful way in which to fight depression.
Being with others
The spiral of depressed thinking and depressed behaviour tends to encourage increasing social withdrawal and isolation. Isolation and loneliness are, in turn, very depressing and undermining.
Encourage yourself to make as much use as you can of the casual opportunities for social contact which are available in uni life – hang out in the kitchen with housemates, or go on to the SU or the library with course mates after lectures. You will need to help yourself do this, even if you don’t feel like it.
Telling someone how you are feeling
See ‘Building support networks’ for how talking to someone about how you are feeling can help and how to challenge the unhelpful attitudes that might be stopping you from getting appropriate support. This section also helps you consider further what the various support options are.Just having some company and social contact is better than staying isolated in your room, but it is a lot easier to be with others if you feel able to open up about how you are feeling, so you don’t feel you have to pretend you are okay or keep up a ‘front’.
Ideas for who to talk to include:
Family – help them help you by showing them this website or printing off the ‘Worried about someone else?’ page for them.
Friends or other students – friends and other students can be very supportive, but be realistic about what they can and can’t do (see ‘Peer support’ for ideas).
Anonymous listening – phone the Samaritans or your student Nightline.
Others with similar experiences – see ‘Online help’ and ‘Other resources’ for ways to contact other students or people affected by depression through forums or self help support groups.
Personal tutor – most academic departments arrange systems for tutors to offer personal academic support; you don’t have to give details if you don’t want to.
Professionals such as counsellors, doctors or mental health services are trained to offer appropriate help, advice and treatment.
Write it down – write it down in a letter to someone; even if you don’t ever show it to anyone, writing things down or keeping a diary can be very therapeutic (see the ‘Writing’ page)
If depression has brought you so low that you have thought about suicide or self-harm then it is vital that you seek professional help from a doctor or counsellor as a matter of urgency. See the ‘Desperate right now?’ page if you feel you are at immediate risk, or else use the ‘Get Support’ section to find appropriate help.
Being able to reach out for the comfort of human contact is an important example of the skill of taking good care of yourself. The next page looks at other ways to learn vital ‘self soothing’ skills.