If you are just going to college, or you are planning for the next fall admission, you need to be aware of a few things. Depression is on the rise amongst college students and scarily so.. Recent statistics from a research conducted by American Psychological Association show that students show higher symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders than ever before. One out of every four American students is believed to suffer from depression. 30% of students were found to be so depressed that it affected their functioning during the school year.
The period of transition between home and college can be particularly stressful on young people especially if they are of a sensitive temperament. Many of the reasons include homesickness, absence of loved ones in the family, feeling alone and insecure in the new environment, poor social skills and inability to make friends and adjust; different kind of environment, rules and constraints and the pressures of academics. Independence, by itself, can be challenging.
How can you know whether a student is suffering from depression or not? The symptoms may change or vary from person to person and the intensity may differ also. However, there are some common signs which need to be noted down.
They include persistent feelings of sadness and lowness which persists beyond a healthy duration; change in normal behaviour patterns; increased loss of attention to self and to daily habits; decrease in performance; increase in intake of habit forming substances like smoking as well as increase in addictive behaviours such as excess sex.
Research that depressed students are more likely to smoke The duration of depression may range from months to couple of years. Many may not even know that they are depressed until and unless it starts interfering in their normal life. Extremely severe depression can lead to suicidal feelings. There are different kinds of depressions based on how serious the symptoms are.
Common feelings experienced including feeling sad, low, guilty, hopelessness, tiredness, disinterest, decrease in social interactions, withdrawal from society, irritability, lack of sleep or excess of sleep, loss of appetite or going on binge eating etc. Students need to be familiar with these symptoms so that they can help one another when the need arises.
What to do
Because of the severe consequences of depression, if not treated at the earliest, it is imperative that students and their friends/loved ones be on the watch out for symptoms of depression.
What you can do in such situations to help your friends is to bring this to the notice of a councellor or doctor at the earliest. Depending on the severity of the depression, counselling can be recommended.
In severe cases, medication and psychotherapy can be given. Many times, a heart to heart talk and an unburdening of the self can help in removing the gloom. Creative activities can also provide relief to the affected person and help them recover from the sad moods. Developing a sense of purpose and motivation can help the person come out from depression and return back to full life.
Image source: By Sander van der Wel from Netherlands (Depressed Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons