Mental Health

According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders in the United States, affecting more than fifteen million adults. College students are at especially high risk for depression as well as suicide.

Depression

Depression is not a weakness; it is an illness that requires medical attention. You will find that many college students suffer from some form of depression. The feelings are often temporary and may be situational. A romantic breakup, a disappointing grade, or an ongoing conflict with a friend or roommate can create feelings of despair. Although most depression goes away on its own, if you or a friend has any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to talk to a health care provider:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

  • Feeling useless, inadequate, bad, or guilty

  • Self-hatred, constant questioning of one’s thoughts and actions

  • Loss of energy and motivation

  • Weight loss or gain

  • Difficulty going to sleep or excessive need for sleep

  • Loss of interest in sex

  • Difficulty concentrating for a significant length of time

Suicide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that students ages fifteen to twenty-four are more likely than any other age group to attempt suicide. Most people who commit suicide give a warning of their intentions. The following are common indicators of someone’s intent to commit suicide:

  • Recent loss and a seeming inability to let go of grief

  • Change in personality, such as sadness, withdrawal, or apathy

  • Expressions of self-hatred

  • Change in sleep patterns

  • Change in eating habits

  • A direct statement about committing suicide (“I might as well end it all.”)

  • A preoccupation with death

If you or someone you know threatens suicide or displays any of these signs, it’s time to consult a mental health professional. Most campuses have counseling centers that offer one-on-one sessions as well as support groups for their students. Finally, remember that there is no shame attached to high levels of stress, depression, anxiety, or suicidal tendencies. Unavoidable life events or physiological imbalances can cause such feelings and behaviors. Proper counseling, medical attention, and in some cases prescription medication can help students cope with mental health issues.