The transition a young adult experiences when venturing off to college, is one of the most challenging adjustments they will make in their entire lives. The National College Health Assessment observed data from 125,000 students from over 150 colleges. About one third of students surveyed, said they encountered feelings of depression in the past 12 months. And of those 125,000 students almost half of them said they felt feelings of anxiety over the past year as well. Depression is defined as a mood disorder that causes one to feel a continuous feeling of sadness, emptiness, and loss of interest in daily life. While anxiety is defined as a feeling of unease or worry about events where the outcome is unknown. Whether students are suffering from anxiety or depression it is important to know the triggers, warning signs, and know what you can do to help.
What are the Triggers?
When a student enters college they are faced with situations that they most likely have not encountered before in their life. For some, this is probably their first time being away from home and they may be feeling homesick for their hometown and family. Their hectic schedules and major course work brings on new pressures to maintain grades and have evenbetter time management skills. There are also social pressures that come into play with peer pressure at parties, learning to live with new roommates, and pursuing new romantic relationships.
It’s normal for people to show signs of sadness and anxiety from time to time, but when a person has severe depression or anxiety it takes over their entire life affecting how they think, feel, and behave. This can also lead to mental and physical health problems. It is important to know the warning signs and to know what to look for in college students to prevent their disorders from developing further. Emotions go haywire and students start to have overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, irrational mood swings, and loss of interest in things they once found pleasure in. Sleeping problems become apparent as students either have difficulty falling and staying asleep or they tend to sleep in excessive amounts. You may also start to notice changes in appetite. Whether they wish not to eat as much and show apparent weight loss or they over eat and gain a noticeable amount of weight. Students may also have trouble remembering simple tasks, trouble focusing in class or to conversations, and grow to be indecisive. In extreme cases of depression and anxiety students may even have thoughts of death or even attempt suicide.
How to Help
The first step in helping your child through this is to talk to them about how they are feeling and simply listen to what they tell you. Next, you should have them schedule an appointment with the school’s wellness center or a local therapist to seek further help. There are also some tips you can relay to your children to make the transition into college life a little easier. Tell them to take everything one step at a time and at their own pace. Don’t encourage them to take on too many clubs, activities, or classes at one time to avoid them being overwhelmed. Encourage your child to take care of themselves by eating right, exercising. getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Again, it is important for them to seek help when they notice their warning signs and also spend time with supportive family and friends.
Depression and Anxiety Resources