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Depression and College Students


Symptoms of Depression

  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Change in weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Energy loss
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Sometimes the multitude of life’s changes that occur during your college years can trigger serious depression. At this vulnerable time, the smartest thing you can do for yourself is to seek help. If your feelings of constant stress and sadness go on for weeks or months, you may be experiencing more than just difficulty adjusting to life’s changes. Seek assistance from a doctor or mental health professional, the university counseling service, or the student health center. While in treatment, there are a number of steps you can take to help you cope on your way to recovery.

  • Carefully plan your day. Make time every day to prioritize your work. Prioritizing can give you a sense of control over what you must do and a sense that you can do it.
  • Plan your work and sleep schedules. Too many students defer doing important class work until nighttime, work through much of the night, and start every day feeling exhausted. Constant fatigue can be a critical trigger for depression. Seven or eight hours of sleep a night is important to your well- being.
  • Participate in an extracurricular activity. Sports, theater, fraternities and sororities, the student newspaper – whatever interests you – can bring opportunities to meet people interested in the same things you are, and these activities provide welcome change from class work.
  • Seek support from other people. This may be a roommate or a friend from class. Friendships can help make a strange place feel more friendly and comfortable. Sharing your emotions reduces isolation and helps you realize that you are not alone.
  • Try relaxation methods. These include meditation, deep breathing, warm baths, long walks, exercise – whatever you enjoy that lessens your feelings of stress and discomfort.
  • Take time for yourself every day. Make special time for yourself – even if it’s only for 15 minutes a day. Focusing on yourself can be energizing and gives you a feeling of purpose and control over your life.
  • Work towards recovery. The most important step in combating depression and reclaiming your college experience is to seek treatment. Your physician should communicate to you that remission of symptoms should be your goal and work with you to determine whether psychological counseling, medication or a combination of both treatments is needed. 

    © copyright Mental Health America December 12, 2011

Learn more about coping and treating Depression. Please feel free to view the National Institute of Mental Health video on recognizing depression and seeking help.