College Depression: What Parents Need to Know and Do
College depression is a very common problem in today’s academic environment. As a parent, you should acknowledge and understand that depression is a very sinful condition that can happen even to the most optimistic and well-balanced children.
During college, teenagers are often going through a difficult transition to adulthood. Responsibility, stress, expectations, loneliness, nutritional deficiency and the strong need to find a place in today’s society are some of the reasons why students develop symptoms of anxiety and depression.
What is College Depression?
Even though it sounds like a specific diagnosis, it isn’t. College depression is simply depression that manifests while students go through college.
If you’re not familiar with depression, it is a biological and emotional disorder that provokes severe feelings of sadness, apathy, and weakness. Depression is a very dark place to be and unfortunately, you cannot simply “get rid of it” without acknowledging it, accepting it, and taking the right steps to treat it.
What Does College Have to Do with Depression?
There are many reasons why students develop depression in college. According to a highly recognized argumentative essay from StudyClerk.com, these are the most prominent causes of depression among college students:
- Failure to adapt and make friends and the lack of belonging
- Lack of healthy food, which leads to vitamin deficiencies
- Lack of sleep
- Peer pressure and self-pressure
- High expectations from parents and teachers that cannot be met
- Too many responsibilities, for students that had absolutely no responsibilities before college
- Money problems
- Relationships problems (devastating breakups, loss of friendships, etc.)
- High amounts of stress
As you may see, a teenage student has to face many problems that prepare them for adulthood. If your child becomes depressed due to any of these reasons, that doesn’t mean that he or she didn’t receive the proper education or that he or she is weak. Depression is very tricky and can happen even to the strongest of all.
How Do You Know if Your Child is Depressed?
College depression may often be difficult to recognize. Many students don’t want to admit that they’re having problems, and they may not even feel like sharing what’s wrong with their parents. Some don’t want to recognize that they’re weak, others ignore the symptoms, while others try to fix them on their own.
Nevertheless, your job as a parent is to stay sharp and immediately detect symptoms of depression in your child’s behavior. If depression is left untreated, it will get worse and worse. I don’t mean to make it terrifying, but suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds and depression is one of the key factors that contribute to it.
So, here are the main symptoms of college depression:
- Intense sadness, melancholy, hopelessness, and tearfulness
- Sudden loss of interest in the activities that your child used to love (hobbies, sports, etc.)
- Angry outbursts, irritability, and unexplained frustration
- Insomnia or the opposite – too much sleeping in order to avoid life
- Lack of energy
- Totally unexplained physical issues such as headaches and back pain
- Restlessness and anxiety
- Negative changes in appetite followed by weight loss or weight gain
- Problems with concentration, obsessive thinking, memory issues
- Suicide thoughts and attempts
What Can You Do?
The first step to treating college depression is acknowledging whether your student teen is really depressed. There are many times when children experience sadness, lack of energy, angriness. However, when your child is depressed, he or she will manifest one or more of the above symptoms on a consistent basis. After you recognize it, take the following steps:
- Learn More About Depression – Knowledge is power. The more you know what you’re dealing with the easier it will be to help your student teen cure his depression symptoms.
- Help Your Teenager Understand What He’s Going Through – Students are caught up in a lot of activities. Their minds are busy, and very few are regularly introspecting their thoughts and feelings. For that reason, they may live with the pain of depression without acknowledging it. Help them understand what they’re going through and let them know that what they’re experiencing is temporary.
- Visit a Psychologist – Take your child to a professional psychologist who knows exactly how to deal with this sort of problems and follow his lead.
- Be Extremely Supportive – When a student is depressed, he needs unconditional support from his parents. Be extremely supportive and let him know that you’re there for him no matter what.
- Seek Natural Remedies – Before deciding to go for a prescription treatment, consider the healthy alternative. Many times, depression is caused by nutritional deficiencies!
Depression is not the end of the world. Both you and your teenage student must understand that right away. The healing process may take a week, a month, a year, as it all depends on the efforts that you both put.
Always stay optimistic and try as many alternatives as you have at your disposal. Use today’s advice and help your student teen move past this painful experience while learning important lessons from it.
Guest Writer Bio
Alyssa Johnson is an academic writer and soon-to-become psychologist. Her college depression was a true revelation that helped her acknowledge her higher purpose, which is to help misfortunate students deal with mental issues such as anxiety, ADHD, and depression.