More and more students develop depression at college with every passing year. Although researchers aren’t entirely sure what’s behind the trend, many believe that it might be related to increased pressure on students, the lack of high-quality jobs after graduation, and lack of preparation for independent learning in school.
The statistics regarding student mental health are shocking. According to data from the American College Health Association, more than 6.3 percent of students considered committing suicide during the 2009 academic year, with 1.3 making actual attempts.
So what can students do to avoid depression and get through college with their mental health intact?
Use Counseling Services
Teen depression treatment has come a long way in recent years. Schools and colleges are starting to realize that they have a duty to protect both the physical and mental health of students on their campuses. College counseling services are far better equipped than they were 20 years ago to deal with common mental health issues that tend to arise. Although students can sometimes be reluctant to turn up to counseling services, they have proven efficacy, and many can continue their education without further episodes.
The first step, say mental health professionals, is to admit to oneself that you have a problem and that it needs urgent medical attention. Suicide is a leading cause of death among people under 40.
College students are well-known for unstable sleep schedules. But sleep is essential to mental health, according to leading psychologist Michael Daine. He says that a combination of early lectures, late-night study and all-night partying is a disaster for natural sleep cycles. He recommends that students keep partying to the weekend, and avoid all-night benders, choosing instead to go home before midnight. In the week he suggests turning lights off and going to be soon after dark. Sleep, he says, facilitates learning as well as combating the likelihood of developing depression.
Introverted people can sometimes struggle in college. All of a sudden, they’re thrust into a new group of people and expected to make friends, almost immediately. Making friends can be a struggle, and so some people give up, deciding instead to do things by themselves. It’s important to remember that colleges are as much about studying as they are about making long-term connections and friends. It’s not a good idea, according to experts, to just lock yourself away in your room and spend all hours of the day studying. Much better to get out in the evening, spend time with friends, build relationships, and get out of your own head for a while.
Join The College Gym
Physical activity helps with the release of certain kinds of neurotransmitters known to improve mood. These neurotransmitters flood the brain and cause generalized feelings of euphoria – or at the very least – counteract depressive feelings. Don’t like the gym? Join a college sports team. That way, you get the best of both worlds: exercise and the chance to meet a new group of friends.