Can I study with depression? (5 techniques)

This blog post will give you tips on how to study with depression and cover topics like major causes of depression, research on people at risk of getting depression and major signs and symptoms of depression.

Can I study with depression?

Yes, it is possible for you to study with depression. It is definitely not a simple task, but with the right guidance and self-help tips, you can be able to help support yourself ‌and study effectively.

To understand more about how to study with depression, we first need to analyze the major causes of depression.

Major causes of depression

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by a persistent low mood and loss of interest in activities. There is no single cause of depression. However, we have many triggers for depression and they include;

  • Job and money worries
  • Bereavement
  • Divorce
  • Major life transitions like getting a child, changing schools, a new job or moving
  • Use of alcohol and drugs
  • Terminal illnesses
  • Family history

Common symptoms of depression

Some people experience depression once in their lifetime while others keep on getting recurring episodes of depression. Depression has many symptoms, but the most common ones include;

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Persistent low mood
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts, ideations, or attempts
  • Hopelessness
  • Isolation
  • Lack of energy
  • Unexplained physical symptoms like migraines or back pains

Which group of people are at risk of getting depression?

The World Health Organization statistics on cases of depression globally are staggering. Being aware of the vulnerable groups that are likely to get depression will help you understand, recognize and employ preventative measures so as not to get it.

Economic factors

People with less economic stability are at a high risk of developing depression due to the life stressors in their lives. Most of them are struggling to have a decent meal, provide for their families, and have a stable income. For this reason, they present with symptoms of depression.

Depression can also manifest from their lack of better health insurance and hence lack of adequate treatment. If the symptoms are not detected and treated early, the chances of developing Major Depressive Disorder are very high.

Family history

Depression can be hereditary. This means that it can be passed down the generations. Genetic factors can lead to one developing symptoms of depression. 

This, however, does not mean that you will definitely get depression if other members of your family have the disease. Research done has shown the possibility of depression passing down to generations but the chances of this happening are very minimal.

Use of alcohol and drugs

Some drugs are depressants. This means that they trigger feelings of isolation and loneliness, and this is often associated with depressive symptoms. Addiction to drugs that stimulate the “feel good” feeling leads to depressive symptoms when the drugs have not been consumed.

The prolonged use of these drugs tampers with the production of dopamine, which controls our mood. The deficiency of dopamine in our nervous system then triggers symptoms of depression.

Past trauma

People who have experienced past trauma are at a high risk of developing depressive symptoms in their lives. Some traumatic events can be so stressful that they cause generalized anxiety and panic disorders that can lead to Major Depressive Disorders. People with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are also at a very high risk of developing Major Depressive Disorder.

Stress and depression when studying

Research has shown that half of the student population globally has anxiety and depression. While many students see studying as a way to develop and discover new possibilities, some perceive studying as a depressing and exhausting task. A small group of the depressed group has considered suicide or has tried ending their lives.

Pressure to achieve and fear of failure is among the top reasons for depression when studying. Pressure comes from the students themselves, parents and the teachers. Other causes of depression when studying include;

  • Wrong choice of course programmes
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of supportive social circles
  • Having a wide range of courses to choose from
  • Poor school life-balance
  • Studying for your exams at the last minute

How can I study with depression? (5 techniques)

Create a study plan

A study plan is a very important tool if you are having depression, and you need to study. This is because depression decreases motivation and may cause procrastination. A study plan will help you organise your studies well.

A study plan will also help you to remain accountable. It helps with preparation, planning and also analysis of any problems encountered when studying and also how to solve them. Keep in mind that a study plan is more detailed and complex than a timetable.

Use the following tips to create your study plan;

  • What are the goals that you want to achieve at the end of the study period?
  • How many hours do you have to study?
  • How will you acquire the study material?
  • How much time will you allocate to each subject/ course material? (choose by order of priority)
  • Which is the most conducive environment for you to study? Create a favorable environment free from distractions by switching off your phone or studying in a quiet environment.

When used the right way, the study plan will;

  • Improve productivity
  • Improve the quality of work done
  • It will help you manage your study time better
  • It will increase motivation
  • It will reduce stress immensely by avoiding the last-minute rush

Have a study routine

A study routine includes creating a structure on how and where to study and sticking to it daily. Note that your study routine does not have to be rigid and boring. Factor in mental breaks and activities that will help you focus.

As you create your routine, consider the following factors:

Understand your study styles.

Your study habits will dictate your routine, i.e., leave the house if you are easily distracted, have one place that is only meant for studying, and avoid places where you chill if you are a procrastinator.

Figure out what works for you. 

Put into consideration if you are a morning person, or you concentrate better at night. Factor in your concentration span too. Some people can study for a long time while others require brief breaks.

Have a realistic schedule

Use a calendar to allocate all your study and non-study activities. Make sure you are comfortable with the hours allocated for your studies. Mark important upcoming events like exams or assignments and put reminders to avoid last-minute surprises and unnecessary anxiety and stress.

Be accountable

A realistic routine that includes breaks and fun activities will help you stay on top of your studies while still having time to relax and socialize. Taking responsibility for your own actions will help you feel in control, an aspect that reduces depressive feelings.

Be aware of your triggers

Being able to identify your stress triggers will help you identify depressive symptoms before they become too overwhelming to study or carry out any activity. You can identify your triggers by paying attention to situations that trigger intense negative emotions. Some physical symptoms can also be indicators of triggers, i.e., pounding heart, sweating, upset stomach or migraines. 

After identifying the negative feelings or symptoms, trace back your activities and identify the situation/event that triggered those feelings. It is difficult to identify triggers, so do not be dejected if you do not identify them the first time. Keep on repeating the cycle and you will ‌find a pattern of events that cause your depressive thoughts and affect your studies negatively.

Challenge negative perceptions

Consistent negative thinking patterns affect our mental health. The ability to challenge and change them to positive ones will not only improve your mental health but also make studying more productive.

Most negative thinking patterns arise from personalizing and taking the blame for things that go wrong, only focusing on negative things happening, and only seeing things in one way without considering other options. Recognizing these negative thoughts will help a long way in challenging and changing negative thinking patterns.

Use a diary to keep track of negative thoughts. The diary will also give you insight into the impact negative thoughts have on your life and how they affect your study time.

Practising mindfulness, i.e., meditation, will help you detach from the negative thinking patterns. Meditation will also help in letting go of the past and instead help you keep in touch with things and feelings in the present. Mindfulness helps ease depressive symptoms and helps you study better.

You can also use a gratitude diary. This will help you focus and keep track of the positive things happening around you. Focusing on positives will improve your mood and make study time very productive. 

Have positive support systems

A good support system goes a long way in helping relieve depressive symptoms and improve your wellbeing. Your support system should include close friends and family and also health professionals. Research has shown that social support systems help in alleviating depression and anxiety.

The mental health professionals in your support systems should have a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. These people will provide emotional and practical help in reducing depressive symptoms.

A strong support system of close family and friends reduces stress and anxiety, improves wellbeing, and helps in developing positive coping mechanisms for stress.


This blog provided you with helpful techniques on how to study with depression. We recognized the major symptoms of depression, what causes depression, and the groups that are at risk of developing depression. The blog also captured the major causes of depression when studying.

The blog has explained ‌the techniques that will help you ‌study effectively with depression. Please feel free to comment on the content or ask questions in the comments section below.

Frequently asked questions: can I study with depression?

Does depression make it hard to study?

Yes. It can be very challenging to study with depression and it would require a lot of effort to ‌concentrate. Some symptoms of depression include lack of motivation and concentration, which impact studies negatively.

Can a depressed person study?

Yes. Depression cannot be a reason for one not to study, but if not treated and dealt with, it can be a factor in making students perform poorly or stop studying. Use self-help techniques to help you study and also seek help from people who can give you practical and emotional support.

Can depression cause a loss of interest in studying?

Yes. loss of interest in activities is one of the major causes of depression. Loss of interest in studies can be used as a warning sign of depression and, if not dealt with, can make you perform poorly or stop studying.


Fulghum, D. (2021, March 18). Cause of depression. Retrieved from 

Miltenburg, H., (2021, 18 December). Stress and depression when studying and choosing a programme for studies: studying category from Dutch university guide for parent blog, Wageningen university and research. Retrieved from 

Mascara, A., (2021, September 9). How to study with depression/ depressed student motivation. Retrieved from 

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