It’s no secret that college students are some of the most stressed people on the planet. From grueling class schedules, and deadlines, acclimating to independence, and somehow maintaining employment and social life, can easily become overwhelming. Perhaps it is this perfect storm that better explains why college students are one of the most affected demographics by various mental health disorders.
Depression and anxiety in college are unfortunately extremely common, on the rise, and an increasingly dangerous issue on campuses across the nation. Learning how to cope with depression and anxiety in college is not only crucial for success academically, but could also very well be the difference between life and death.
Depression And Anxiety In College: A Growing Problem
Whether it’s merely that we as a society are more informed and aware of mental disorders, or that they’re simply becoming more common among people, it’s been at the forefront of discussions the past few years. As our understanding and overall acceptance deepens surrounding different mental health issues, taking a closer look at those affected has provided some startling statistics.
One particular individual, Jake Heilbrunn, explored these very statistics as he dealt with his own struggles with depression and anxiety. According to Heilbrunn, The New York Times estimates that one-third of all college students have experienced depression so severe that they found it difficult to function. Also, 46 percent of college students in general have expressed that they felt “things were hopeless” at least once in the last year.
The horrifying statistics don’t stop there either.
Every year, 5,000 people aged 15 to 24 years old commit suicide, a number that has tripled since 1960. It has become the 2nd most common cause of death among college-aged individuals. One in six students (or 15.8 percent of all college students) has also either been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety disorders. These diagnoses have led to many students experiencing academic difficulties. In fact, a diagnosis of anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health issue on campuses.
These figures are the mere tip of the metaphorical iceberg. One quick Google search will yield countless reports and studies with terrifying statistics. With this glaringly obvious issue facing our college students, it goes without saying that something must be done to get these numbers under control. Luckily, universities across the nation are responding hastily.
More schools than ever are now offering special assistance programs geared towards addressing depression and anxiety in college. But if you are like the thousands of others suffering, it’s important to learn what you can personally do to cope with depression and anxiety in college before it is too late. But fear not—there is an answer!
What Can You Do?
If you’ve already taken the first imperative step of identifying that there is an actual problem and not just everyday anxiety or depression, it’s time to get to work. While initially, it may seem to be a hopeless condition, and so overwhelming you don’t know where to start, just know that there are steps you can take to chip away at the issue.
When attempting to tackle depression and anxiety in college, the first step is to always remain proactive. Depression and anxiety do not simply “go away.” Like most mental health disorders, there may be instances of flare-ups and periods of relief. Just because the depression and anxiety are seemingly “under control” for the time being, understand these are chronic (ongoing) conditions that forever lurk beneath the calm surface.
Staying proactive in your treatment is important to keep these mental health disorders at a manageable level. Should you let your mental health fall to the wayside on your list of priorities, you may be confronted with a severe flare-up and have no tools to appropriately deal with it.
Start A Treatment Regimen
Upon receiving the initial diagnosis, which is a must if you even suspect there may be a problem, it’s time to form your own treatment plan. Everyone is different, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” method when it comes to treating mental health disorders. There are multiple techniques currently available as forms of treatment, so finding the one that works for you is necessary. A delayed start to your treatment regimen is also completely counterproductive. As aforementioned, anxiety and depression are chronic disorders that merely get worse with time.
Communicate With Others
Another vital step in dealing with depression and anxiety in college is having an open line of communication about what’s really going on. Being honest and maintaining an open dialogue with those around you can help keep you accountable to your treatment program and also will provide additional support and understanding. Having the love and support of the people in your life when it comes to combating your mental health disorders is indispensable.
Know Your Limits
While having depression and anxiety in college is very common and may even appear to just be “part of the experience”—it’s not. Do not set yourself up for failure! Undertaking too much at one time is a recipe for disaster. Overexertion of your mental state by taking a large course load and working a full-time job will not work.
It may seem irritating to have to limit yourself when you want to do more, but it’ll pay off in the long run. You’ll avoid exacerbating your anxiety and depression and find that having a more manageable schedule will yield more success in all areas of your life!
Lastly, a huge favor you can do for yourself is researching what programs and support groups are offered on your campus specifically for depression and anxiety in college. By joining these groups, you’ll not only tap into a community of your peers who can relate to your struggle but also may find a plethora of resources that are only there to help.
Rather than shying away from opening up about your difficulties, it can help you become more comfortable with accepting your reality. Denial and shame are two detrimental feelings when it comes to addressing mental health.
Give Yourself A Chance!
Left untreated, depression and anxiety in college can lead you down a dark and scary road. Subsequent drug and alcohol addiction may result in an unhealthy coping mechanism. In fact, suffering from a dual-diagnosis is extremely common among addicts and alcoholics. College students are once again, a very at-risk group. Issues with substance abuse on campus are occurring in tandem with difficulties with mental health disorders. Taking the proper steps to protect your future today is crucial!