Return to campus — information and updates »

Centre for Accessibility Services


What are depressive disorders?

Depressive disorders are identified in persons by consistent feelings of sadness and/or decreased interest or pleasure in activities, which interferes with daily living, vocation and overall life. Symptoms can affect how a person thinks, feels, behaves, and can lead to emotional and physical challenges. The cause of it is unknown, however, genetics, change in biology, environment and psycho-social impacts can have a direct correlation. Depressive disorders may occur once in a lifetime or can transpire in multiple episodes. The treatment of any type of depressive disorder includes prescribed medication, psychotherapy, and/or both.

Common types of depressive disorders with DSM-5 coding

  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder – DSM-5 code: 296.99
  • Major depressive disorder – DSM-5 code: 296.21-296.36
  • Persistent depressive disorder (Dysthymia) – DSM-5 code: 300.4
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – DSM-5 code: 625.4
  • Substance/medication-induced depressive disorder – DSM-5 code: 291.89-292.84
  • Depressive disorder due to another medical condition – DSM-5 code: 293.83
  • Other specified or unspecified depressive disorder – DSM-5 code: 311

Symptoms & common characteristics

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, tearfulness, worthlessness and/or hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem, mood swings, self-deprecating thoughts
  • Angry outbursts, feeling angry, irritability or frustration most of the day
  • Tiredness, lack of energy, added effort to complete small tasks
  • Sense of feeling overwhelmed or out of control
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in activities
  • Unexplained physical pain, back, headaches
  • Lack of sleep, insomnia, hypersomnia
  • Reduced appetite, weight loss
  • Increased appetite, weight gain, food cravings
  • Difficulty with remembering, thinking, concentrating and/or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide, suicide ideation, suicide planning, suicide attempt

Centre for Accessibility support for depressive disorders may include

  • Time accommodation for exams
  • Separate setting/distraction reduced exam setting 
  • Listening to CAS approved music during exams
  • Note-taking services


  • Mood disorders are one of the most common mental illnesses in the general population.
  • Studies have consistently documented higher rates of depression among women than among men: the female-to-male ratio averages 2:1.
  • According to Statistics Canada's 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) on Mental Health, 5.4% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and over reported symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder in the previous 12 months, including 4.7% for major depression and 1.5% for bipolar disorder.
  • As many as one in five teens report suicidal ideation in the past year.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young Canadians, accounting for almost one-quarter of all deaths at ages 15 to 24.


Depression (major depressive disorder)

What is depression?

How to support students with a depressive disorder

  • Provide a detailed syllabus earlier in the course to help students prepare for their semester.
  • Identify clear office hour information and drop-in hour information.
  • Arrange to meet with the student to discuss specific learning needs, and strategies for success.
  • Allow for students to talk to you about their disability, their needs, and related accommodations.
  • Provide an opportunity for draft submissions of projects and/or assignments; allowing students to check their work and ensure they are on track.
  • Consult with Centre for Accessibility at UFV to obtain help in understanding the specific nature of the barriers the student faces.
  • If you are concerned about a student and are unsure whether to intervene, seek supports from CAS or Student Services on campus.

Resources and websites

Crisis Line Association of BC  

Crisis Centre BC 

Change your campus

Health Reports: Depression and suicidal ideation among Canadians aged 15 to 24

Supporting student mental heath in the classroom

Teaching students with mental health disabilities 

If a student has disclosed thoughts, plans and/or current attempts of suicide, please contact the Suicide Hotline: 1800SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or Mental Health Support: 310-6789 (no need to dial area code) or 911 for emergency situations.

Tips and tools for students with depression

Sleep. Eat. Exercise. To ensure that you are successful in your time at university, creating a routine that provides you with enough sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise can be beneficial to your overall health. A proper routine will decrease or eliminate the symptoms of your disability and allow you to maintain good mental, emotional and physical health.

Access supports and services. Connecting with UFV’s Centre for Accessibility Services (CAS), UFV Counselling, and community resources can help you manage your mental health. Connecting with local supports as early as possible allows you to strengthen easily accessible relationships, provide awareness around your disability and build accommodations around your disability. Talking to a professional about your experiences, symptoms, and challenges can allow you to work through problems, build self-confidence, and get the required support in any situation.

Check-in with your mental health. As life gets busy, we often forget to take care of ourselves or check-in with how we are doing. Creating a Mental Health Meter for yourself can allow you to determine where you are on the continuum of happiness to sadness. Writing in a journal, asking yourself questions or talking to a friend/support worker about how you are feeling can help self-identify if things are good or bad. Taking a Mental Health Meter or creating your own can provide you with the awareness for you to reach out to support.

The power of healthy thinking. The symptoms of a disability can often lead us into "thinking traps", where problems become very difficult to solve or situations can be unbearable to deal with. Healthy thinking allows you to use techniques that balance your thoughts and allow you to see the problems or situations for what they are. Counsellors or support workers can provide you techniques that can move you away from thinking traps and become solution-focused. Visit Anxiety Canada for some examples of thinking traps and ways to challenge your thinking traps.

Struggling to meet deadlines? Technology can be difficult to manage at times, but when it comes to supporting us with our everyday tasks, it can be a lifesaver. Our cell phones, laptops, tablets, and computers come with a variety of tools that can help manage our daily lives. There are an assortment of software or apps that can assist with creating to-do lists, events calendars, and reminders. These tools can highlight important tasks and ensure projects meet the required deadlines. In any case, embrace the technology and find an app that works for you. Try to use one device or sync your device to others so information can be easily accessible.

Resources and websites

Crisis Line Association of BC 

Crisis Centre BC 

Depression (major depressive disorder)

What is depression?

Health Reports: Depression and suicidal ideation among Canadians aged 15 to 24 

If you have thoughts, plans and/or current attempts of suicide, please contact the Suicide Hotline: 1800SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or Mental Health Support: 310-6789 (no need to dial area code) or call 911 for emergencies.

Contact Us