Depression in College Students

The first time I experienced depression was when I was a sophomore in my undergraduate studies. I was already a psychology major at that time, and yet I failed to recognize that I was suffering from depression. I realized that I was sad, but I didn’t think it was “that bad.” I mean, after all, I wasn’t flunking out of school, so I didn’t think that it was a real problem. It was not until I began to get better that I was able realize how bad it truly was.

Transitioning, even under parental guardianship, from a High School minor to adulthood where it’s expected for you to contribute to society, whether that is going immediately into the work force or attending college (a lot of times consisting of both) can be a daunting endeavor. For those college students that move away from their families and communities, the loss of that support can be a major trigger for onset depression. For myself, it was the constant changes in college life. I would make new friends only for them, a short time later, to drop out or to graduate.

The longest roommate I ever had was only for a little more than a year. Job changes were common as well. Everything was changing all the time, and I found it to be a very lonely experience. I am not ashamed that I struggled with depression, for it gave me a better understanding of depression and empathy for others who suffer from it. Also, I believe it has ultimately helped me to be a better counselor, because I understand how depression can sneak up on you and how overwhelming and lonely it can feel.

Many people, like myself, experience depression for the first time in their college years. Research suggests that up to nearly 30% of college students report feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function.”  Depression is not something that you feel one day and not the next; it does not pass quickly. It is much more than just feeling “a little down or blue.”

Common signs or symptoms of depression

·       Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

·       Feelings of hopelessness

·       Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness

·       Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities

·       Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”

·       Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions

·       Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

·       Appetite and/or unwanted weight changes

·       Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts

·       Restlessness, irritability

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, if you have been experiencing any of the previous signs and symptoms nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, you may have major (sometimes called “clinical”) depression. Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms. Some people have many. If you believe that you or anyone you know may be suffering from depression, please give Northshore Family Counseling a call at 985-661-0560 to set up an appointment today.

Sarah Steed