Moving away from home, spending long hours studying, and making new friends are often part of starting college. These things can be exciting, but they can be scary, too. Sometimes they can lead to depression.
Depression is the second most common mental illness in college students. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. For some, depression can lead to low grades, problems with
drugs, and even suicide.
Causes of Depression in College
Depression can be caused by any stressful life change. College is often the first big life change for young adults. It can bring many new things, including:
Having a roommate
Managing your time
Doing your own laundry or shopping
Managing your money
Changes in relationships back home
Making new friends
Questions about your sexual or gender identity
Worries about life after graduation
You may look forward to some or all these changes, but sometimes they can be overwhelming.
What is Depression?
Depression is more than just feeling down. It is an illness that can last for weeks, months, or even years. Signs of depression are:
Trouble focusing, remembering, and/or making decisions
Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
Eating more or less than usual and/or sudden weight gain or loss
Thinking about death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Getting Used to College Life
If you or someone you know is having trouble with the stresses and changes of college life, here are some coping tips from The Jed Foundation:
Try to figure out different ways to react.
Reach out to your friends, family, or loved ones.
Stay active. Exercise is a proven way to lift your mood.
Stick to a routine.
Go to classes even if you do not feel like it. Falling behind can make things worse.
Keep a healthy diet.
Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
Get enough sleep.
If you think you are depressed, it is important to ask for help.
Talk to your regular doctor or visit the student health or counseling center. A healthcare professional will ask about your symptoms. They can refer you to a mental health specialist if needed.
Counseling and medicine are the most common treatments for depression. Counseling can help you understand and think differently about problems in your life. It can also help you learn new skills to cope with life’s ups and downs. Medication can reduce or relieve your symptoms. Sometimes counseling and medicine are used together, especially if your symptoms are severe.
Some students have such severe depression that they think of killing themselves. If you have thoughts of suicide, it is an emergency. Seek help from your college health service, counseling center, or the nearest hospital emergency department right away. Tell friends, a trusted staff or faculty member, and family members how you are feeling. This can help you can get the support you need. And try to remember that depression is an illness that can be managed. You can get help and feel better.
Even though college can be a difficult time, it is a chance for you to grow and change for the better. Depression does not have to get in the way of having a fun and successful time in college.
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