What is Depression?

There are many definitions of depression that describe it as an illness or a negative coping mechanism. Some attribute depression to different causes,  some say that Depression is a medical disease, caused by a neurochemical or hormonal imbalance. Others state that Depression is caused by certain styles of thinking (negative and self depreciating) and others define Depression as a result of unfortunate experiences (death of a loved one, end of a relationship, big change in life).

However, what ever the cause of the depression- what is known is that depression causes people to feel very low in themselves, to lose all lust for life, to isolate and alienate themselves from friends and family and to lose motivation to do many of the normal things in their lives.

How do we recognize if we or anybody that we know is experiencing a period of depression? 

Symptoms of Depression usually include:

  • Exhaustion on waking
  • Disrupted sleep, sometimes through upsetting dreams
  • Early morning waking and difficulty getting back to sleep
  • Doing less of what they used to enjoy
  • Feeling ‘low’ and ‘down’
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Improved energy as the day goes on
  • Anxious worrying and intrusive upsetting thoughts
  • Becoming emotional or upset for no particular reason
  • Shortness of temper, or irritability

Not all people have all of these, and some have different signs, but if you are depressed, at least some of these will probably ring true with you.
The individual signs of depression - the way you feel - are used in diagnosing depression.


Many people attend the counselling service reporting many of these symptoms, but do not know what to call it. They just know that they don’t feel good about themselves or their lives at that time.


Many will talk about having felt ‘bad’ for a long time, but not doing anything about it. Sometimes it is only when someone gets to the stage of not being able to ‘cope’ anymore, that they come and seek help.


It can feel like a relief to people to finally have a name to put on their feelings, to know that this is real and to find out that they are not the only one feeling like this.


Last year, 11.54% of the students who attended the DIT Counselling Service reported feeling depressed. This figure includes all types of depression diagnosed, including those who may have been feeling depressed as a result of substance abuse, dependence and withdrawal.

This can lead us to believe that students are seeking out and finding help when they need it.
We view this as an extremely important aspect of our work – being there to help students when they need it.

Our figures also show us that these students are seeking out the help themselves, with over 60% referring themselves to the service.


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