Children usually have their first taste of real independence in college.

    Children usually have their first taste of real independence in college. For college-bound kids, this may seem exciting. New environment, new friends, fun collegiate activities and parties, and other academic challenges sound like a whole new world. What they do not know is that it can be as equally stressful as it is exciting. The overwhelming experiences and challenges can lead to anxiety and depression. 

    What is depression?

    Depression is a serious mental disorder that affects both the mind and body of an individual. It should not be underestimated. It is a state of intense loneliness or overwhelming despair that has advanced to a level that is alarming and dangerous to an individual’s social, emotional, and physical functioning. It impedes academic performance and affects the individual’s basic activities and daily living.

     Although it is more common in women due to hormonal makeup, it does not choose age, race, gender or a certain demographics. It can affect everyone, but college students are considered to be more vulnerable due to a flood of developmental changes and the overall stress of transitioning to college life. The severity may vary, but if left untreated, it can lead to more serious health and emotional problems or suicide.

    The number of children diagnosed with depression is growing as reported by the American College Health Association. The good thing is that most children today are being treated for psychological disorders earlier than ever before, which enable them to thrive in a campus environment. With the growing demand for psychological help in campuses, universities and colleges are now offering mental health services for free to help students battle depression.

    What causes deep student’s depression?

    There are a lot of possible triggers of college depression. For freshmen students, the transition phase is hard. The changes can be disconcerting. With our society placing importance on college success, college students often fall victim to depression. For those who have a history or were diagnosed with depression before, all the stress and anxiety can trigger the disorder.

    Adjusting to the new campus, living with a new roommate, making new friends and joining groups, and juggling all academic workload can be a real challenge. It takes time getting used to, especially if it is their first time to live far away from home. As if the different social aspects are not stressful enough to handle, a demanding curriculum has to fit in and find its place in the scheme of things.

    All the demands of college life, the pressure of academic requirements, failing to adapt socially, financial problems, and the stress of trying to balance academics, relationships, and social life are the main stressors that cause feelings of depression. 

    The stress of maintaining a busy schedule and a full lifestyle cause sleep deprivation. Getting up early for morning classes or workouts and staying up late at night to study or attend parties are the norm in college, which leads to disruptions in sleeping patterns.

     According to a study, there is a correlation between depression and sleep, especially for college students. Students experiencing sleep disturbances have a higher risk of developing the disorder. Lack of rest or sleep can be both a trigger factor and an effect of the disorder. This also goes with alcohol or substance consumption. Those who consume more than the recommended dose of alcohol, stimulants, and other drugs are more prone to depression. These cause a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects the mood and behaviors of any individual. It is best that everyone should be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression so they can help themselves or other people overcome depression.

    What are the symptoms of depression?

    There are a lot of signs and symptoms that signal depression.  The feeling of sadness is normal but if it exceeds to more than two weeks, it is best that the student seeks out for help before things get out of hand.  Although some symptoms are pretty obvious, subtle signs should not be ignored. Here are some obvious signs that a student is depressed:

    •    As mentioned, a depressed individual may experience prolonged sadness accompanied by other negative emotions such as a feeling of worthlessness, apathy, and emptiness.

    •    Sudden outbursts of anger, feeling of frustration, and irritability over little things are obvious signs that something is wrong.

    •    Significant changes in sleeping patterns, as well as eating habits such as oversleeping, not getting enough sleep, eating too much or complete loss of appetite, are also clear signals.

    •    If you are feeling mentally and physically exhausted and you lost interest in doing your routine or daily activities, chances are, you are experiencing depression.

    •    Guilt feelings, fixating on past failures and blaming yourself for all the things that went wrong even those that you are not responsible for are also recognized as a depressive state.

    •    Anyone who has a bleak outlook on the future and frequently mentions thoughts about death or suicide must be helped immediately. It is a clear sign of depression.

    •    Decreased energy and increased level of fatigue that doing small tasks seem like a big ordeal is also a symptom.

    •    Increase intake of alcohol or substance abuse, risky behaviors, changes in mood and interaction with others are symptoms of depression. Students are starting to act out to relieve stress or as a form of escapism.

    How to cope with depression in college

    Deep college depression triggers drastic changes can lead to life-threatening events or a lifetime of living with the effects that are often irreversible. Here are some ways you can cope with depression:

    1. Seek out support when you need it.

    Seeking out for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness. Do not be afraid to ask for support when things get too overwhelming.  You might be surprised to learn that you are not alone and there are a lot of students experiencing the same things as you. Reach out to your school’s counseling services. Depression is pretty common and being recognized now as a disorder. They can help you overcome it.

    Spend some time with your supportive family members and friends.  Sharing your struggles and telling them all the things that are bothering you can greatly help eliminate all negative feelings and avoid depression.

    2. Take proper care of yourself.

    Eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol or any stimulants can help you battle depression.  Also, spend more time with your friends instead of exhausting studying. Use writing services such as RewardedEssays.com to cope with your homework faster.

    3. Have fun

    Although we mentioned that alcohol can cause depression, occasional drinking is healthy for socialization. Left and right college parties are fine as long as you drink in moderation.

    4. Establish a healthy lifestyle

    Apart from taking good care of yourself, it is good that you establish a routine. This is also a practice of good time management. You can include activities like jogging in the morning before class, writing down all your goals, things to accomplish including deadlines and tests, and a time for you to unwind and relax.

    5. Be kind to your peers

    Your peers may be experiencing depression and the least you can do is to be kind to them. There is still a stigma placed on those who may have experienced or experienced it along with common misconceptions about the disorder that need to be changed.

    In order for universities and colleges to decrease the rate of students experiencing depression, everyone must understand the disorder, its causes and effects, and the preventive programs that can address the problem. Depression can be a gateway to other serious condition that can affect the physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals, especially students. It is crucial that parents, student bodies, and universities work together to battle depression.