Depression is a mental health disorder that can impact anyone under extreme pressure. Experts agree that the condition can be brought on by stressful situations occurring in the workplace, at home, or at school. It should come as no surprise, then, that an increasing number of college students are experiencing symptoms of depression.
College is a time of many transitions and new beginnings. Some students are coping with the reality of suddenly being separated from family and friends. Others are trying to find their place in the new social setting of university life and decipher where they belong. There may be additional peer pressures in the form of substance use. Working students face financial and time constraints that add an extra layer of anxiety, and of course, every college student has the stress of homework, tests, and maintaining an acceptable GPA.
According to Dr. Michelle Weckmann, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa, up to 40 percent of the student population she sees may be living with depression. Individuals heading off to college with a history of depression must learn to balance their condition with all of the external stressors that come with entering this rite of passage. Fortunately, there are ways for students to successfully manage the disease and help keep it at bay.
Weckmann offers the following recommendations to aid in combatting depression:
- Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables and maintain a steady exercise regimen.
- Get involved in a volunteer program. Helping others is a great way to avoid getting consumed with one’s own issues.
- Stay connected and build a network of people you can turn to for support if needed.
Depression is not uncommon and is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. College can be a wonderful experience, even for the person living with depression. The key is to address symptoms as early as possible, and Family Guidance Center can help. For more information about depression or to set up an appointment with a mental health professional, contact Family Guidance Center.