College Students and Depression: Parental Guide

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Going to college or returning to college can be a thrilling experience for young adults, with both students and parents hoping to create lifelong memories. It’s a time of discovery and growth for many students. However, depression and anxiety can impede this journey.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health, and college students are not immune to its effects. Research shows that a considerable number of college students are experiencing depression and anxiety, with one in three affected by these conditions.

Parents and students should be aware of the risk factors and symptoms associated with depression to aid early identification and treatment. This knowledge can be helpful in ensuring that students get the support they need to manage their mental health effectively.

Depression And Anxiety Shopping?

Depression and anxiety can manifest in various ways, including the following symptoms:

  • Struggles with academic work
  • Loss of interest in social activities, clubs, sports, and other commitments
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Emotional outbursts, like anger or tearfulness
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Panic attacks
  • Negative self-evaluations
  • Lack of energy or motivation
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Alarming statistics reveal that up to 44% of college students report experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Being mindful of these symptoms is crucial to detect and address these issues early on.

The Reason College Doctor Students Are Struggling

The challenges that college students face are multifaceted, as they must navigate societal pressure to achieve success without possessing essential life skills.

With the escalating cost of education, students and their families face additional stress. Even in elementary school, children are pushed to their limits, leading to negative effects on their mental health and well-being.

Many middle and high school students have schedules that rival top corporate executives, with days beginning as early as 6 a.m. and ending past 10 p.m. This grueling routine results in sleep deprivation and leaves little time to develop essential independent living skills, such as doing laundry, cooking meals, managing finances, and accessing services to fulfill their needs, all while grappling with the question “Who am I?”

These skill deficits continue to compound as young adults head off to college, where they must face the challenges of maintaining relationships, handling heavy course loads, and living away from home for the first time.

It’s crucial to address children’s mental health years before they leave for college. Helping children to strike a balance between achievement and the many demands they face should begin at home.

It’s concerning how adolescents believe they must model after parents with the lack of experience and even coaching in life actual balance. A strong belief that they should maintain health , have a social life , school and some even work and not have a hard time. 

Risk Factors In College Students

There are several risk factors that can contribute to depression and anxiety in college students. Some of the most significant ones include:

  1. Pre-existing mental health conditions: Students with a history of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely to experience these issues during college.
  2. Stressful life events: College is a significant life transition that can be stressful, particularly for students who experience challenging life events such as a breakup, a family member’s death, or financial difficulties.
  3. Substance abuse: College students may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, which can worsen depression and anxiety.
  4. Lack of social support: Students who don’t have strong social support systems, such as close friends or family, may feel isolated and overwhelmed.
  5. Poor sleep habits: College students often have irregular sleep schedules, which can lead to sleep deprivation, a risk factor for depression and anxiety.

By understanding these risk factors, parents, educators, and students themselves can take proactive steps to prevent and manage mental health challenges in college. Encouraging healthy coping mechanisms, prioritizing self-care, and seeking help when needed can all contribute to better mental health outcomes for college students.

Signs Students with Depression May Have?

There are several common signs that a college student may be experiencing depression, including:

  1. Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness: Students with depression may feel sad, empty, or hopeless most of the time, even when there is no obvious cause.
  2. Loss of interest in activities: Students may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, including hobbies, socializing, and spending time with friends and family.
  3. Changes in appetite or weight: Depression can cause changes in appetite and weight, leading to weight gain or loss.
  4. Sleeping too much or too little: Students with depression may have trouble sleeping, or they may sleep too much.
  5. Fatigue or lack of energy: Students with depression may feel tired or have a lack of energy, even if they haven’t engaged in any physical activity.
  6. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions: Depression can make it hard for students to focus on tasks, make decisions, or remember important information.
  7. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

It’s important to note that not all students with depression will exhibit all of these signs, and some may experience symptoms that are not listed here.

Self Harm Or Suicide Warning Signs

Suicidal or self-harm warning signs are critical to recognize to help prevent a crisis. Some common warning signs of suicidal or self-harm ideation include:

  1. Talking about wanting to die or hurt oneself: Students may express feelings of hopelessness and have a desire to end their life or engage in self-harm.
  2. Increased substance use: Students may increase their use of drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with emotional pain.
  3. Withdrawal from friends and activities: Students may isolate themselves from friends and family, discontinue participation in activities, and lose interest in things they once enjoyed.
  4. Giving away prized possessions: Students may give away prized possessions or express a desire to tie up loose ends before taking drastic measures.
  5. Sudden mood swings: Students may experience sudden shifts in mood or exhibit uncharacteristic behavior.
  6. Changes in sleeping or eating habits: Students may have sudden changes in sleeping or eating patterns.
  7. Expressing feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness: Students may express feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness, and feel like nothing will improve.

If you notice any of these warning signs in a college student, it is crucial to take immediate action.

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How Can A Parent Help A Student?

As a parent, it can be difficult to see your child struggling with depression and anxiety while away at college. However, there are steps you can take to support your student’s mental health:

  1. Encourage your student to seek help from a mental health professional on campus. Many colleges offer counseling services to students, and it’s essential to take advantage of these resources.
  2. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Listen to your student without criticizing or minimizing their feelings, and offer empathy and understanding.
  3. Stay connected with your student. Regular communication can help your student feel supported and connected to home.
  4. Encourage healthy habits. Encourage your student to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. These habits can have a positive impact on mental health.
  5. Help your student manage stress. Encourage your student to take breaks when needed, prioritize self-care, and practice relaxation techniques.
  6. Keep an eye out for warning signs. Be aware of the warning signs of depression and anxiety and take action if you notice any concerning behavior.

Professional Options Available To Treat Depression And Anxiety?

There are several professional options available to treat depression and anxiety, including:

  1. Psychotherapy: This involves talking to a mental health professional to identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to depression and anxiety. Several types of therapy are effective in treating depression and anxiety, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and interpersonal therapy (IPT).
  2. Medications: Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications can help manage the symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, medication should only be prescribed by a licensed medical professional and used under close supervision.
  3. Support groups: Joining a support group for depression and anxiety can provide a sense of community and validation while receiving emotional support and coping strategies from others who are going through similar experiences.
  4. Lifestyle changes: Regular exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and reducing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  5. Complementary and alternative therapies: Some individuals may benefit from complementary and alternative therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, or herbal remedies. However, it is essential to consult with a licensed healthcare professional before trying any of these treatments.

How Can I Pay For Professional Help?

Paying for professional treatment services for depression and anxiety can be a concern for many individuals. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Health insurance: Check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover mental health services. Many insurance plans offer coverage for therapy and medication management.
  2. Employee assistance programs (EAPs): Some employers offer EAPs that provide free or low-cost mental health services to employees and their family members.
  3. Sliding scale fees: Some therapists and mental health clinics offer sliding scale fees based on income, making treatment more affordable.
  4. Community mental health clinics: Community mental health clinics may offer free or low-cost mental health services to individuals who meet certain income and residency requirements.
  5. Non-profit organizations: There are many non-profit organizations that provide mental health services at little or no cost. These organizations may specialize in certain populations or mental health conditions.
  6. Government programs: The government may provide funding for mental health services through programs like Medicaid or Medicare.

It’s essential to explore different options and find what works best for your financial situation. Many mental health professionals offer a free consultation, so it’s a good idea to contact a few providers to discuss payment options and treatment plans.

How We Can Help Here At Solace Treatment Center?

Solace Treatment Center is an outpatient program that can help people with dual diagnosis. We understand that each individual will have different needs and are prepared to come up with a customized treatment plan.

At Solace Treatment, we treat a wide range of mental health and substance use disorders. In addition to treating substance use disorder, we are also equipped to treat these mental health disorders:

  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Depressive Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Trauma-Related Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and mental health disorders, please contact our team to find the treatment that best fits your needs.