You wouldn’t have thought that college would be such a game changer. After all, in high school you didn’t have to balance your academics with social life, share a room with total strangers, or be so far from home. College life is hard and stressful, and many students fall into depression and anxiety. However, there are ways to deal with this. Read on to find out how you can overcome it.
Reasons why college students get depressed
You will feel that you have a lot on your plate. You fear that you might disappoint your parents or guardians with your performance because the tuition fees are not in any way cheap. Other worries that can make your life even harder include making it to class on time, having to contribute to class discussions or the concern of getting a job after school. Is this happening to you already? It doesn’t stop there. Social and peer pressure doesn’t spare you. You want to have fun, party hard, meet new people, experience new things and the list is endless.
How to know you are falling into depression
With all the things you are juggling, depression and anxiety might start to kick in. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you might be depressed:
- The world doesn’t interest you anymore.
- You have trouble remembering simple things and focusing in class.
- Your appetite has changed.
- You feel guilty for something you don’t know and even start experiencing suicidal thoughts.
- You most probably lack sleep at night or remain in bed all day.
You don’t have to go through this silently!
How to deal with depression
To get through this phase of your life here are 7 ways to take control of your life in college once again and deal with depression and anxiety head-on:
- Ask for help
Okay, you are feeling gloomy and in a dark tunnel with no possibility of light at its end. You might even feel like the world has lost its color. You do not have to deal with all this alone. It is time to seek professional help. Get into psychotherapy. Do not be embarrassed to approach your school’s mental health counselor for assistance. Talking to them about your issues will help you identify the underlying factors to your depression symptoms and how to rise above them. You shouldn’t wait for the problem to get worse.
- Join a support group
Make a point of joining groups of other students who are battling with depression and anxiety. Listening to their experiences and the steps they are taking to recover might be what you need to learn to deal with your situation. You will also need to seek the support of your family and friends. They know you better; thus regularly sharing your feelings with them shouldn’t be hard. They will listen and offer you the encouragement that you need. Having a support system goes a long way in overcoming depression.
- Seek medication
If you are diagnosed with clinical depression, you will be required to start in a treatment which combines talk therapy with medicine. Taking the prescribed medication is more effective and increases your chances of getting better. Your health care provider will prescribe antidepressants that will help you cope with depression and anxiety.
- Take care of your whole well being
You must have heard this said before, the key to a healthy lifestyle is taking a balanced diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. These essentials play a significant role in your physical, mental and emotional health. Did you know that decreasing your consumption of processed foods with high sugar, taking at least three meals a day and increasing your protein intake improves your overall well-being? Now you know. It is not odd to feel well when you have eaten well. This is because the right diet provides your brain and body with the strength it needs to battle depression and anxiety.
Establishing a healthy sleeping routine and exercising regularly also go a long way in helping students cope with depression. Do not let your hectic schedule at school overtake your eating and sleeping habits. Skipping meals or failing to get rest so that you can prepare for an exam or class is not worth the risk of becoming depressed.
- Avoid using drugs as a coping mechanism
Do not engage in drug and alcohol abuse as a way of dealing with depression. With all the peer pressure in college, this might prove challenging to do. However, take a stand and avoid being pressured into this bad habit. You might be high for a few minutes or hours, but drugs only worsen your depression symptoms.
- Don’t isolate yourself, get involved
It is no secret; depression makes you antisocial. It makes you lose interest in your hobbies, and you will want to spend most of your time alone. Isolation only makes your situation worse and tough to recover. You need to find distractions. Move out of your little cocoon and engage in activities that make you feel good.
Explore new places outside your area of residence. Join clubs or study groups at your school that align with your interests. Create connections with new people.
Distractions are an excellent way for you to feel that you are a part of something and you might even look at the world in a whole new perspective.
- Set goals
Facing the everyday tasks at school can be daunting especially when you are struggling with depression and anxiety. You feel low spirited and lack the motivation to do anything. To cope, you need to start with baby steps. Categorize your tasks. Make rules on how you wish to manage those tasks and in what time.
Set goals that you want to accomplish at the end of each day. Find pleasure in doing these, and you will see a positive future worth looking forward to.
College is never easy, and the number of students suffering from depression and anxiety keeps rising. Taking control of your life, handling challenges and managing the freedom at college is overwhelming. It’s okay to feel stressed with the college life transitioning you to adulthood.
What matters is to know when normal stress is not normal anymore when you start exhibiting depression symptoms and seek help from your school mental health counselor. There is strength in accepting that you have a problem and wanting to solve it is the more significant achievement. You are not perfect. Forgive yourself and treat yourself with kindness when you make mistakes.
For more information, visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mood-self-assessment