Attending college can be tough and scary for those new to the experience of being away from home.
There’s the heavy burden of making sure you complete all your work for classes and pass exams. Most difficult of all can be the responsibility of feeding and clothing yourself much of the time.
Trying to juggle responsibilities as a newly minted college student becomes that much more difficult for those struggling with depression.
There is a great deal of social stigma when it comes to admitting to the disease, leading these persons to suffer in silence. Unfortunately, symptoms of depression can make it seem like a student is lazy, disinterested, or simply a poor student. In actuality nothing could be further from the truth.
UI assistant professor of psychiatry Dr. Michelle Weckmann told IowaWatch that she estimates that as many as 40% of the students she sees suffer from depression.
The average high school & college student experiences a 70% decrease in stress, anxiety and depression during summer vacation.
— iTweetFacts™ (@iTweetFacts) February 26, 2014
Symptoms of depression predict retention and graduation rates, and mentally healthy students are better learners: http://t.co/aCd9YZaJ8m
— U-M Health System (@UMHealthSystem) February 27, 2014
Weckmann said that depression is very much a biological disease; one that can be triggered by work, school, or sports among other sources of stress.
As upsetting as the reality of depression in college is, Weckmann shared that there are certain factors that can greatly improve one’s resilience in the face of the illness.
First and foremost, it’s very important to have a support system. Keep in touch with your parents, siblings, and/or friends. Join a local church or a club. Whatever you do, ensure that you have others to reach out to in order to prevent feelings of isolation.
Another factor that can improve depression symptoms is regular exercise and a healthy diet.. College students are notorious for their unhealthy eating, hence the “freshman fifteen” they tend to pack on. Deviating from that can help your body and mind.
Volunteer work is another option. Taking time to do for others and make a positive difference often is a huge boost to one’s self-esteem.
Lastly, strongly consider getting therapy and treatment. There’s no reason to be ashamed or scared: Depression is a very common ailment. The longer you leave your symptoms untreated, the more you longer you will be suffering unnecessarily through a difficult college experience.
Image via Wikimedia Commons