Today, college students are particularly susceptible to depression. The various transitions they go through make them notably vulnerable to depression. Recently, researchers at Boston University published a study that found that over 60% of students met the criteria for a mental illness between 2020 and 2021. This is double the rate from eight years ago.
What is causing this spike?
In 2020, the pandemic forced many schools to close their doors, sending students home. This created feelings of isolation and uncertainty about the future in most students and led to many dealing with depression and anxiety. Along with these feelings of anxiety and depression, there is still a perceived stigma around getting help for your mental health. A recent study in 2020 showed that 45% of people still think less of someone who has received mental health treatment. Over time, the stigma around mental health has decreased, and most people see a need for treatment, but there is work to do.
Depression in College
Depression is a common mental health issue today. Clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest for at least two weeks or longer and it is different from just feeling sad. With depression, you constantly feel sadness and emptiness, ultimately impacting your daily activities.
College is a challenging time for most young adults. In addition to the school stress related to their classes and pressure from parents, they also face adulthood at an earlier age. They are asked to grow up the moment they step on campus, and the more adult-like responsibilities students take on, the more prone they are to mental health problems. At 18 years old, most students have not yet grasped the maturity skills of adulthood. College students who go through this are often distressed, making them more prone to depression and anxiety. It can interfere with their ability to attend class and even carry out daily activities.
Remember that you are not alone, and resources are available to get help. Here are six tips that can help you beat depression in college.
Tips for Beating Depression
- Plan your days carefully.
Dealing with daily classes, homework, extracurricular activities, and social life can make your days very busy and overwhelming. Plan for the week ahead on Sunday, and don’t plan too many things on one day. Add and track important dates and deadlines each week to avoid late nights and last-minute stress.
- Make time for yourself each day.
Each day, aim to take at least an hour to yourself. If you can’t do an hour, ensure it is at least 30 minutes. Exercise is a great break to take at least three times a week as it can help to stimulate and release chemicals in the brain that can boost your mood. Other ideas to make time for yourself include hot showers or baths, meditation or deep breathing exercises, and outside walks or hikes. Make time for anything that helps reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Take Advantage of Technology to Stay Connected
Social connections play a vital role in supporting your mental health. Today, we have the technology to ensure these connections stay strong. Use video calls, online games, regular phone calls, and group messages to stay connected with your friends and loved ones back home. Being away can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. If you have friends or family back home, set aside time each week to connect with them and give them an update on how your week is going.
- Make sure to get quality sleep.
Everyone is different, but the National Sleep Foundation recommends that healthy young adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately, college students are some of the most sleep-deprived individuals. Getting sufficient sleep each night is vital to helping our bodies rest and recover, which helps keeps us physically and mentally healthy each day. Create a daily bedtime routine, and avoid using your phone or computer right before, as it can make it challenging to fall asleep.
- Overcoming Stigma
Remember that you are not alone in this fight and that others deal with depression and anxiety. Earlier in the article, we discussed that most people see a need for mental health and will not look down on someone seeking help. Consider educating yourself on depression to understand better what you are going through and how to improve your mental health.
- Getting help
Most colleges and universities have counseling services available to students. Check your school’s website or speak with an academic counselor for more information. Licensed Counselors can help you build reliable and healthy coping skills to beat depression. Additionally, they can also provide you with additional resources and education if needed. If you are in DFW, you can also seek help from Salience Health. They deliver a holistic and comprehensive approach to mental health by combining Primary Care, Psychiatry, and Therapy under one roof to provide complete mental health care to patients.
Coping with depression as a college student can be challenging. However, we hope these strategies are valuable as you work to improve your mental health.
- Eisenberg D, Ketchen Lipson S, Heinze J. The Healthy Minds Survey. The Healthy Minds Network.