Should I consider taking time off school for depression?

In this article we will discuss how you can make the most of your time off if you have taken a leave from school for depression.

We will also discuss what are some of the signs you need to keep a look out for if you are thinking about taking a time off, even if it is not specifically depression that you are struggling with. 

Should I consider taking time off school for depression?

Let us take a look at some of the signs and symptoms you might be experiencing that might indicate that you need some time off.

You should consider taking leave or time off from school if:

  • Behavior and personality changes. For example, if you were extremely outgoing and a go-getter and suddenly become more reserved, less motivated, unable to keep up with school work. 
  • Extremely low moods and anxiety
  • Begins isolating themselves from your friends and family.  
  • Unable to focus with school work
  • Easily irritated and frustrated to the point that you hurt yourself or other people. 
  • Thoughts about suicide and death
  • Physical changes and aches and pains.
  • Change in appetite and sleep

Other reasons why you should consider taking a break from school could include:

  • Traumatic events
  • Death and loss
  • Anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of exams and studying
  • Parental divorce
  • Terminally ill patients in the family

All of these reasons could bring immense stress on a student which can only cause their mental health to deteriorate if not dealt with. 

If you have been noticing that you are experiencing symptoms of depression that are affecting your well-being, and that school is aggravating your symptoms- it is advisable that you speak to a professional mental health service provider.

This includes talking to your school counsellor, your parents if you are a minor, and/or a doctor to consider taking time off school to treat depression. 

Steps to take when you consider taking time off school

Here are a few things you can do to make the most of your time off

Reach Out For Help

The first thing you can do to treat your depression is to seek out help from a professional- it could be a psychiatrist or a therapist or your school counselor or teacher. 

Taking the courage to talk to one or reach out to one can be the first thing you do to stand up for yourself. Tell them what is happening to you and what the stress is doing to your mental health and discuss the possibility of taking time off.

You can take time to seek out a therapist that fits you and if the medium of take therapy does not seem to be helping there are other forms of therapy such as group therapy, art therapy, dance therapy etc- exploring your choices could be something you can do during this time of leave. 

You can also seek out support communities both offline and online if you think that they will help you feel less alone. 

Once you have spoken to a therapist who is able to identify clear signs of depression, get your documents in order as you hand in a notice of your leave and make efforts to talk to your teachers to discuss ways you can cope with school work during or after the leave. 

Focus On Recovery

In order for you to have the best experience possible, it is important to take the time you need to focus on yourself and your mental health.

So if you get yourself in therapy, make sure that you take the suggestions of your therapist to try out the strategies they mentioned or do the homework they have given.

If you are on medication, make sure that you are honest with yourself as you take the doses instead of missing them or avoiding them. 

Be diligent with your sessions as well and be mindful of any resistance you might be feeling and take courage to discuss it with your therapist. 

If you find that therapy is not working, make sure you bring it up with them and consider seeking out other forms of therapy or other therapists. If you also notice issues with your medication, mention them to your doctor. 

Let this time be focused on your health and mental health, throw yourself into the recovery process instead of getting sidetracked with school stress. 

Unplug from school

You’ve taken time off to focus on your mental health, so turn off your notifications from school, your school emails, and set aside your books. 

A digital detox can be helpful so consider spending time away from screens all together. Work from school can be a source of stress, so keep it distant while you take the day to feel more like yourself again. 

Do something that makes you happy

Don’t feel guilty about doing something for pleasure during your time off.  It’s important that you fill the day with activities that make you feel good. 

If you like to cook or bake, spend some time in the kitchen, or maybe you like to ride your bike or walk on the beach.

Do things that bring you joy or surround yourself with things or people in your life that give you meaning and hope like your friends, family, even a beloved pet. 

Spend some time doing a puzzle, drawing, painting or colouring in. If you aren’t a creative person or don’t feel like being creative, make a cup of herbal tea and listen to some instrumental music. 

Connect with loved ones

Being and feeling connected is an important part of being mentally well. To connect, you can try to call a friend or family member for a catch up.

Avoid socialising in big groups especially when you are having a hard time with your emotional capacity to connect. Just sitting down with a close one, someone you trust and spending time with them can be a good place to start. 

Connecting doesn’t necessarily mean having a sit down chat- though it is advisable, if you aren;t ready then you don’t have to. Instead you and that loved one can spend some time at home watching a movie, or gardening, or going to a book store if you are up to it. 

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

By taking time off, you might have a lot of time to reflect on your thoughts or events that you have experienced which might not be a good thing to do at night. 

Taking mindful effort to do some relaxing activities at night such as treating yourself to a warm bath, grooming yourself, shutting down your screens early, and even meditating to set yourself up for successful sleep.

Do nothing

Let this time of leave off school allow you to take solid rest by doing nothing. Let yourself lounge around the house in your favorite pjs. Eating your favorite snacks without judgement. 

Let this time allow you to take complete time off, including taking mindful time off from healthy activities like exercising or other self care activities like gardening and painting. Even if they are good for you, if the time is especially bad- don’t do it. Honour your need to do nothing and simply rest.

Remember that this leave will not solve your problems

Taking time off, though helpful, will not magically change your life nor will it heal your depression. There is a danger with expecting this leave to cure your depression and when it doesn’t, the disappointment will only worsen your mental health. 

As part of taking time out, you should also make small changes in your daily routine that can help you cope with the stressors in your life on the days you’re not taking off like taking breaks, eating healthy, paying attention to signs of fatigue and negative thought patterns. 

The more you infuse your life with small habits of wellness, the more effective your leave will be in helping you cope with depression.


In this article we have briefly discussed what are some of the signs that you need to take time off school for your mental health and depression. We have also discussed how you can make the most out of your time off. 


Frequently asked questions related to “Taking time off school for depression”

Is it bad to take time off school?

If you need the break to preserve your mental and physical health, taking time off from school can be a good idea. Another legitimate reason why you could consider taking time off school is if the workload and stress is affecting you mentally. 

How do I get time off for college?

The process of taking time off from college includes the following steps:

  • Talk with your family or a guardian
  • Consult with the college guidance counsellor
  • Look up the policies of your school related to taking time off
  • Let your guidance counsellor know
  • Get the necessary paperwork ready
  • Explore who you are and your academic goals
  • Make preparations to return including talking to your professors about your academic responsibilities. 
  • Get any help from your professors that will help you readjust when you need to come back

Can you miss school for mental health?

Taking time off school for your mental health can depend on the policies of your school. SOme schools do give mental health days while others don’t. 

However, if you have the required doctor’s note and a guderian to act as your advocate, you can talk to the administration to discuss a leave. 

How do I get a leave of absence for mental health?

Steps you can take to get a leave of absence:

  • Speak with a mental health care provider- school counsellor or an external service provider.
  • Determine your work or school place policies
  • Meet with the human resource department or your school counsellor/ teacher to discuss your issues with appropriate paperwork from your healthcare provider. 
  • Finalize plans with your healthcare provider and manager/school counsellor
  • Specify how you will take your leave, when you will come back, and how you will sort out your responsibilities during your leave. 

Can you miss school because of anxiety?

Depending on your school policies, anxiety can be considered a legit reason for you to miss school. In fact, anxiety and depression are some of the major causes of why students tend to miss class in schools and colleges. 

If you want to take a leave, talking to your guardian and school counsellor could be some of the first steps you can take to get a grant.