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Studying with Depression


I'm not sure how many students are on this forum, but I'll give it a go.

I'm a mature student studying A2 Psychology and GCSE Physics (never got the chance to do it at school) and I'm struggling to get revision down.

This entire academic year has been a downfall thus far, so I want to try and end it on a good note. But I'm struggling to rip myself out of bed in the morning to do general things, let alone revision. I just feel as though there's no point?

I'm wondering if anyone's in or has been in a similar situation, and what they do/did to try and combat these negative schemas?

My first exam's next month and I'm bricking it.

5 Replies

Morning I'm a mature student studying an MA. I had a similar challenge as I lost my mother. I found a safe person to discuss. Around things using my MA as the starting point. We discussed lots of areas. I took some time away walking and doing some other mind calming, deep breathing etc. I found that by doing thus I allowed my learning to spring into my conscious as I was not trying to hard. I compleated a 30 minute presentation by calming my head. You can do this but try not to try too hard as your learning is there revise in short burst allowing time to relax. It will help. Stay positive that you can achieve. Small steps but do not allow your self to be defeated some days are harder than others but don't beat yourself up as this will allow the depression and self doubt to win. Be in tune with yourself and move forward step by step. I believe in you and will keep sending positive thoughts to you.


I am also doing a MA, I have bipolar and have to take a lot of meds that affect cognitive functioning, focus, concentration and the amount of time I can spend thinking about my subject which is philosophy. Like sat7461 has said, break your revision down into small chunks, try to avoid long sessions of studying. What I find useful is to say to myself, today I am going to study for 3 hours, from ... to ...., then get on with other things. If a worry thought pops into my head that I am not studying enough (a frequent occurrence) I remind myself that I have put aside time to study today and I don't need to worry. If I don't do this, I can spend all my time either worrying that I am not studying, or studying, and that is not fun at all. Now I am not saying that I am always successful at this, and there are times when I am awake at 2 in the morning thinking about my subject!! What I have found useful is to have a jotter pad next to the bed, or in my bag when out and about so that when thoughts pop into my head I can write them down and not worry about having to remember them. The brain really is a marvellous organ, it can chunter away in the background, chewing over an idea, whilst we go about our daily business, and then bang, up pops the answer to the question whilst we are standing in a queue, sitting on the bus doing anything really but consciously thinking about the problem. As well as hitting the books, I have found that leaving the brain alone to get on with doing what it does best is far more productive than worrying away at something.

The other thing I have found useful is to go easy on yourself. So you wanted to study for 3 hours today, but you are too tired, want to watch the telly, go out with friends? Do it, but once you make the decision not to study, don't then beat yourself up that you have taken a break. Throw yourself totally into whatever you have decided to do, you will then feel more refreshed.

Make sure you drink plenty of water, fruit teas, caffeine if you have too. If you feel yyour brain grind to a halt or is slowing down, have a drink and perhaps some fruit. Always try and have a small treat at the end of a study session, for me it is some chocolate 😉 Eat well generally, your brain needs food to work properly, and try to sleep well.

Beware the internet!!! It is so easy to say 'I will just look this up' and find yourself five hours later watching a you tube video on how to talk to giraffes!!!

Above all remember why you are doing your study. I love learning and was denied the opportunity when younger. Yes I want to go on to get a Phd, but I am not doing this for any other reason than I am really interested in my subject and my mental health is greatly improved by finding out new things and thinking about new ideas.

There are days when I really don't want to work, but I have to. Yes getting out of bed is difficult. Try to avoid bringing your study into bed with you, believe me it is not an effective study style. Get up, promising yourself that you will return to your lovely warm snuggle pit later. There are days when I have to choose between changing out of my pj's or studying....here's the thing, I have found that my brain takes no notice of what I am wearing at all!!!

Make sure you study in plenty of natural light, with some fresh air. Every 50 mins or so, take a break, have a coffee, look out the window, walk about, get the blood moving.

If I am having real difficulty studying at home, I will go to my local large library or a bit further away the university library. Just being with other people who are studying can be helpful. Maybe you could study with someone else on your course? this can be helpful, although you do have to be disciplined and not gossip the time away.

That's all my study tips, you may find them helpful, you may not. Well done for continuing to learn, although exams are stressful, regardless of the level you are studying at, they are stressful, if you plan your way through them, you usually get the results you expect.

Good luck.



When you set yourself a target for revision set a very small target. Often with revision it's getting started that is tough, once you get going, even when depressed, it often seems easier. I used to set myself 10 minutes reading, of a subject by 9am in the morning. I had to have washed my face, just to wake myself up, but I didn't have to get dressed before I started studying. After this 10 minutes I allowed myself to go back to bed if I chose to, but once I'd started generally I could keep going. Provided your target is small and manageable you hopefully won't fail and it's amazing how well a positive start to the day influences the rest of the day when it comes to revision.

1 like

Well its a long while since I was a student but I still remember the difficulty of applying oneself. It sounds as if you need motivation and thats always difficult. The best motivators in my opinion are fear and reward. You ought to have a little fear. The academic year has n't obviously been great but surely you don't want to have wasted it, and even more you don't want the awful feeling of going into the exam knowing you haven't done your best. Even worse for some time afterwards you're not going to feel good about yourself and thats never a good thing. Passing these exams will give you a good positive feeling and thats a much better alternative.

Getting out of bed should n't be that difficult--it does n't have to be at the crack of dawn. Then starting right away just look through your notes, not revising , just read through them. That should remind you of how much you have n't got in your head yet and having taken the first step of opening your notes to read them, starting revision should be so much easier. To achieve a pass you don't have to drive yourself like a slave and if feeling a bit low revision will keep your mind off negative thoughts---you're doing something positive.

What's the point ? Well you have a choice of succeeding and feeling good or failing and feeling bad and failing has more serious results as it then becomes easier to accept failure at other things. As a mature student you should n't need anyone to be telling you this.



"Do, . . . . . OR do NOT - . . . . . there is no 'try' " - Mstr Yoda.

Give up your concern with HOW well you are doing, . . . . . . . . and FOCUS more on WHAT you want to learn today. Let the rest take care of itself: you have YOUR ( - self-chosen !) remit !

All the best ( - few things worth really achieving are wholly easy ! SOME effort is likely to be required to start each study session, . . . . which may vary in magnitude, from time to time).


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