Depression in College – Let’s Talk About It

When people talk about college, they focus on the positive: the new-found independence, meeting a variety of people, endless opportunities, and engaging classes. College is indeed a wonderful experience that people remember for the rest of their lives, but it’s not one without troubles and challenges. One of the major challenges students face when entering college is adjusting to the change in environment and lifestyle.

As freshmen, many students are living away from home for the first time and may experience overwhelming homesickness as the year progresses. Students who were at the top of their class in high school find themselves in the middle of the pack at competitive, high-ranking universities. Students also struggle to find their niche amongst thousands, and face “adult” responsibilities for the for the first time. All these changes can lead to symptoms of depression, whether short term or long term.

It is important to address this issue, because ignoring it can have severe consequences, especially on college campuses. Students who do not acknowledge their struggles or who are not aware of the resources available to them may seek alternative ways to cope, which includes alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, and self harm. Without parental supervision and due to large school populations, problems can persist and go unnoticed if the student chooses not to self-report the problem.

I can personally attest that my freshman year of college was a very difficult time for me. By the end of the year I had a strong academic record, good friends, and wonderful memories from the year, but I had also been through a lot mentally and emotionally. I didn’t want to ask for help, because I felt the need to prove how independent I was, and didn’t think anyone cared, since we were all adults. Although I managed to get through it, in retrospect, I wish I had sought assistance and strongly recommend incoming university students to do so if necessary.

Here are some tips to prevent and/or address depression in college:

1) Keep a strong support system. If you’re feeling homesick, stay in contact with your family and friends from “back home” through phone calls, skype sessions, and texting. Let the people who care about you know what’s going on in your life, and keep their good advice close.

2) Use your school health services. Most schools provide some kind of health services that include counseling. If you have things to get off your chest and need guidance, talking to your school counselor is a good option.

3) Maintain your physical health. Getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating well can reduce your stress levels and do wonders for your mental health. Make time in your busy schedule to take care of your body, because it will help you in the long run.

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Pamela Nonga

Pamela Nonga

Pamela Nonga is a second year at the University of California Davis double majoring in Political Science and Communications. When she’s not theorizing about the greater meaning behind her day-to-day experiences on her blog, you can find her on a run, enjoying a blend of the outdoors and her favorite tunes. Pamela loves to read, write, and travel, and hopes to work in the fields of Journalism and Media as a career.
Pamela Nonga

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