While college is often viewed as an enjoyable and liberating phase in life, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Recent research indicates that 47% of college students experience depression or anxiety. This could be attributed to various factors such as adjusting to new social dynamics, coping with a heavy workload, and adapting to unfamiliar surroundings. These new challenges can be overwhelming and lead to mental health issues like depression.
Depression is a medical condition that impacts a person’s mood and functioning. College students are particularly susceptible due to factors like lifestyle changes, chronic stress, genetic predisposition, and others. Treatment for depression typically involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy, tailored to the individual’s needs.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), commonly known as depression, is a serious mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of sadness, irritability, hopelessness, and mood fluctuations. It distinguishes itself from the occasional mood swings that people may experience. Depression is a persistent condition that profoundly affects a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Unlike temporary changes that can be attributed to external factors, depression tends to persist despite alterations in one’s environment or circumstances, and its symptoms can be severe. To receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, symptoms must endure for a minimum of two weeks and significantly disrupt daily functioning.
The duration of depressive symptoms typically lasts for a minimum of two weeks, ranging from mild to severe. While the specific symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, college students dealing with depression often exhibit common signs associated with the condition.
These common symptoms include:
For a depression diagnosis, individuals must experience these symptoms for a minimum of two weeks and demonstrate a decrease in overall functioning. It is important to note that for many individuals, depression can be a chronic condition that persists for weeks, months, or even years.
In some cases, the symptoms of depression can become so overwhelming for students that they contemplate death or have thoughts of suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15 to 34.
Depression is a commonly observed condition among college students, irrespective of whether they are from developing or developed countries. Multiple factors can contribute to the occurrence of depression in college students. It’s important to note that while these factors can heighten the risk, there is no singular cause for depression.
Maintaining a regular physical activity routine, ensuring sufficient sleep, and practicing healthy eating habits have been shown to help regulate depressive episodes. However, the demands of college life, such as exam preparation, late nights, partying, and unhealthy eating patterns, often make it challenging for students to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Isolation from Loved Ones
Students who are distanced from their families or loved ones can struggle with adjusting to their new environment. The transition to college can increase feelings of loneliness as students navigate their way and strive to find their sense of belonging. Loneliness, characterized by a sense of isolation despite the presence of social opportunities, poses a significant risk.
Stress is a common experience for individuals, including college students. The pressure of increased responsibilities, poor time management, and uncertainty about the future contribute to heightened stress levels among students. Uncertainty about job prospects and future living arrangements can be overwhelming. Research indicates that the impact of stress on college students can lead to mental health problems, including depression. Stressful life events can influence an individual’s behavior and emotional responses, further elevating the risk of depression.
History of Trauma
College students who have a history of trauma or abuse are more susceptible to experiencing depression during their college years. The combination of past traumatic experiences, adjusting to a new environment, and encountering unfamiliar social settings increases the vulnerability to depression.
In 75% of cases, lifelong mental health conditions emerge by the age of 24, underscoring the importance of early intervention to prevent college-related depression. However, effectively addressing depression among college students can be challenging when they are physically distant from or hesitant to utilize on-campus health centers.
Seeking help can be particularly difficult considering that only 21% of two-year colleges provide mental health services. Even among those that offer such services, the available resources may be limited. Nonetheless, these institutions can provide contact information for professionals who can offer more comprehensive assistance and support.
Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, encompasses conversations between a person experiencing depression and a mental health professional. Various forms of talk therapy exist, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy, which can be conducted individually or in a group setting.
Through regular talk therapy sessions, students can:
Talk therapy provides an opportunity for individuals to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in a supportive and non-judgmental environment, with the aim of promoting personal growth, resilience, and improved mental well-being.
Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), are commonly prescribed to address severe depression. Medication management is employed on a case-by-case basis, considering the individual’s diagnosis and symptoms. The decision to include medication in the treatment plan is collaboratively determined by the clinical team and the patient.
College presents a demanding and stressful environment for numerous young individuals, making it challenging for students to seek assistance when confronted with symptoms of depression. As they navigate through new surroundings and significant life changes, depression symptoms may emerge, hindering their everyday functioning.
If you or a college student you care about is grappling with depression, we encourage you to reach out to Solace Treatment Center in Whittier, CA. Our dedicated team is here to address any inquiries you may have and provide you with comprehensive information about our specialized depression treatment program.