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Experiencing and living with depression can be very difficult, but there are tools and strategies that may help. 

It’s normal to feel low in mood at times, particularly in response to adverse stressors and life events such as bereavement and loss.  
If you notice that you have been having the following experiences consistently for more than 2 weeks, it may be a sign that you have depression. Depression is a mental illness that is experienced differently by different people, however, there are common features: 

  • Feeling low, sad, tearful and numb. 
  • Avoiding people and situations (social isolation). 
  • Low motivation, low energy and poor concentration. 
  • Feeling worthless, useless or hopeless.  
  • Thinking negatively and seeing the worst in things. 
  • Change in sleeping patterns and eating habits. 
  • Loss of enthusiasm, interest and enjoyment in things that you ordinarily enjoy. 
  • Some people may experience thoughts of harming themselves or ending their life. 

Sometimes depression is the reaction to a life event or sometimes it feels like it comes from nowhere. It is estimated that one in six people have a depressive episode at some time in life. In its milder form, depression makes living life to the full seem difficult and less worthwhile. At its most severe it can be life-threatening. 

Managing Depression and Low Mood.

Experiencing and living with depression or low mood can feel very difficult, but it can get better. Start with small steps each day: 

  • Look after your physical health- this includes practicing self- care routines, looking after your personal hygiene, eating a balanced diet at set, regular points throughout the day and practicing good sleep hygiene. Exercise also makes a big difference to our mood as it releases natural endorphins which help to regulate mood and improve sleep. It’s also a good release of emotion and can help to manage worried thoughts and feelings of stress and anxiety. 
  • Notice the small things- Start to keep a record of achievements for each week. This can be as basic as: getting out of bed, tidying your room, brushing teeth etc. Maybe it’s something you did well and can be proud of, or maybe it’s a positive thing that happened e.g. you had a nice chat with a friend, had a nice walk outside or ate a nice meal. You can also make a list of 5 things that you’re grateful for that day. If this is difficult to begin with, start with something that is less personal or funny, e.g. “I’m grateful that the earth is far enough away from the sun that we don’t get too hot but close enough that we don’t freeze”. 
  • Take some time for self-compassion, self-care and mindfulness- depression can feel worse during more stressful times or when we may be in a particularly negative thinking pattern. Mindfulness is a well researched practice that is proven to help regulate our mood and thought patterns. Apps like Headspace are really useful and offer guided mindfulness and meditation programmes. There are also lots available on YouTube.  
  • Talking to someone you trust about how you are feeling may help- this can be difficult at first but it’s important to speak with someone that you trust. If you can’t speak to someone close to you, Wellbeing and Student Support are here to support. Mental Health Matters, Samaritans and Shout also have people available to speak to by text or phone 24/7. 
Managing Negative Thoughts

 Catch, Check and Change negative thoughts: 

  • When we are feeling low in mood or experiencing depression, we are more likely to assume the worst, see things in a negative light and struggle to find the positives. 
  • It can be helpful during these times to be mindful of our negative thoughts, and to try and challenge and change these. 
  • “Catch” the thoughts by keeping track of them, what they are, and how they impact your mood and how you feel. 
  • “Check” them by asking yourself is there any evidence against or for this thought? Have I made an assumption? Is there another way of looking at this? 
  • Finally, change the thought by trying to consider what alternative options and counter thoughts may be. What would you say to a friend thinking this? Am I being overly critical of myself, if I try to consider the opposite, more positive option, what would that be?  

Events/Situation: Person B has read my messages but hasn't responded for 6 hours

Thoughts: 'They're ignoring me, they don't care about me, I'm not bothering with them' 'How dare they ignore me'

Feelings/emotions/physical sensations: Sad, lonely, angry, rejected, tense jaw and muscles, heavy, emptiness

Behaviour/consequences: sent them more texts asking why they're ignoring me. Ignoring them when they finally text back

Alternative thought/could there be another explanation/is there factual evidence to support my thought/will you still feel as strongly about this in 6 months time: They could be busy/studying/overwhelmed/have their own issues. There's no real evidence for my thoughts - It's just what I think. Probably not.

Coping strategies/disbehaviours: Go for a walk, study, self-care, mindfulness

See the activity below to help practice this: 

Event/ situation 




Feelings/ emotions/ physical sensations 

Behaviour/ consequence 

Alternative thought/ could there be another explanation/ is there factual evidence to support my thought/ will you still feel as strongly about this in 6 months time 

Coping strategies/ distraction/ alternative behaviours 


Person B has read my messages but hasn’t responded for 6 hours 





“They’re ignoring me, they don’t care about me, I’m bothering them” 

“How dare they ignore me!” 





Tense jaw and muscles 



Sent them more texts asking why they’re ignoring me. 


Ignoring them when they finally text back. 

They could be busy/ studying/ overwhelmed/ have their own issues. 


There’s no real evidence for my thoughts, it’s just what I think. 


Probably not 

Go for a walk 


Self- care 


Moving Out of Depression

Most people do recover from depression. It’s important that you seek support from you GP if you are struggling to manage your symptoms or they are not getting better.  

It can sometimes be tempting to try to find release from depression by abusing drugs or alcohol but this can bring its own problems - it is important to look after yourself physically. It can be useful to challenge negative thinking that feeds depression - talking out thoughts and feelings can be useful. Sometimes medication can be helpful in managing depression; medical support and information on medication can be obtained from your GP 

If you are experiencing thoughts to harm yourself or ending your life, it’s very important that you speak to a health professional about the way that you are feeling. Wellbeing Support Service are available to speak to straight away during Monday- Friday 10am-3pm. Go to our website and request a brief consultation. 

In life threatening emergencies, call Community Safety (on campus) on 22222 or 999 (off campus) 

Useful resources


Understanding depression

The Royal College of Psychiatrists  
What is depression let this animation with a dog shed light on it?  
Mood juiceGives a general overview 
NHS information on depression  
All about depressionFacts about depression 
Future learn - coursesFree online course on depression, anxiety and CBT 
Vicious CycleOverview of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a mood disorder linked to the menstrual cycle 

Managing depression


Change the way you feel by changing the way you think

Learn how your behavior can directly affect your

mood, for better or worse, and how to use skills to put yourself in

situations that will make it most likely to improve your mood.

Self-help booklet on managing depression

A Behavioural Activation workbook

Depression and Low Mood: NHS Self-help guideA free downloadable book to help change negative thought patterns and behaviour 
CALMCampaign Against Living Miserably: movement against male suicide helpful workbook about depression from the Boar on mental health and support depression website help sites site wellbeing 
The Depression Alliance  
Depression UK for support and videos on dealing with mental health difficulties on experiences of depression. With thanks to NUI Galway (please note that resources referred to in this video are not available to students and staff at Warwick) workbook for dealing with the cycles of behaviour which can be part of depression 


MoodometerTrack your mood with this NHS mood app for stress, anxiety and depression 

For immediate support

Samaritans24 hour helpline: 116 123 
Available from the University Library:  

Dealing with Depression


Mind over Mood: a cognitive treatment manual for clients

 Dennis Greenberger & Christine Padesky
Mindfulness Based Cognitive TherapyCombining CBT and mindfulness techniques, aimed at preventing relapse of depressionSegal
Understanding and Overcoming Depression Bates
Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison - Dorothy Rowe
The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic UnhappinessCombining CBT and mindfulness techniques, includes CD with meditationsJ. Mark G. Williams
Overcoming depression (CBT)Popular self-help book, good overview of CBT techniques for depressionPaul Gilbert
Beating Depression : The Complete Guide to Depression and How to Overcome It]General overview of depression and treatments, including practical tipsCembrowicz, Stefan.; Kingham, Dorcas.
Creating Optimism : A Proven, Seven-step Program for Overcoming DepressionFocuses on the importance of relationships and explores evolutionary explanation of depressionBob Murray; Alicia Fortinberry
Dealing With Depression NaturallyExplores biological causes of depression, the impact of nutrition on moodSyd Baumel>
Depression : The Way Out of Your PrisonExplores where depression may stem from, and how to overcome itDorothy Rowe
Help Yourself Move Out of Depression and AnxietyCognitive behavioural focus - practical steps to help manage negative thoughts, emotions and anxietyHelga A. H Rowe
Why Am I Still Depressed? : Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder,EbookJames R Phelps
Living with bipolarA guide to the causes and triggers of bipolar disorder and the treatment options available for sufferers 
Coping with depression and elationUseful for family members of those experiencing mood swings or bipolar disorderMcKeon
How to lift depression (fast)Easy to read, looks at role of sleep/dreaming in depressionGriffin and Tyrell
Climbing out of depression: a practical guide for sufferers Atkinson
Overcoming depressionUses case studies to explore how beliefs and thoughts maintain depression.Windy Dryden, Sarah Opie
Coming off Anti-Depressants: How to use and stop using anti-depressants safely J. Glenmullen
Accepting Voices Romme and Escher
Calm Energy : How People Regulate Mood With
Food and Exercise
Describes how you can manage your moods by eating the
right foods and living a healthy lifestyle
The kitchen shrink- food and recipes for a healthy
Recipes containing foods that may help depression, PMS and
anxiety and enhance mood and brain power

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