There are a quite a few life changes that come with the commencement of college. For example, one acquires roommates, develops new friendships, is exposed to new cultures, takes on new classes and even develops a new lifestyle. This is a lot to take on! For many, these changes can lead to feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and sad. Depression is a mental health disorder and is known to affect college students in many unexpected ways (Riba & Cusumano, 2018). For instance, it can affect not only a student’s academic performance, but their sleep regimen, their relationship with peers and overall health. Depression comes in many forms like sleeping a lot or not enough, affecting one’s appetite, and deterring one’s motivation to do things like going to class or participating in activities. Depression can isolate students and make them feel sad and hopeless(Riba & Cusumano, 2018). If the depression gets deeper, it could even lead to students to develop thoughts of suicide.
When it comes to depression, not many people are comfortable admitting that they are suffering and need help. Research suggests that students with depression, especially women, tend to drink more alcohol compared to those who are not suffering with depression. This can lead to other issues like substance abuse and individuals engaging in unsafe sex. Additionally, it is not uncommon for students with depression to self-medicate with street drugs (U.S Department of Health and Human Services, n.d.).
It’s always a good idea to check up on friends – even if it doesn’t seem like anything is wrong. Asking them if they’re doing okay and listening to their response is always helpful! Make them feel comfortable with the conversation. You can also encourage them to find a support group. It’s nice for them to vent about what they’re going through especially with people who can relate to them. Research shows that support groups help the recovery of someone struggling with depression (Borchard, 2017).
A good first step to take when dealing with depression is seeking a counselor. Students might not want to seek help due to stigma or financial reasons. Luckily, here at UNK, the Counseling department has a great team that care about your optimal mental well-being. UNK students receive 3 counseling sessions per semester, in addition to the initial intake session that is included in student fees. If you or a friend is suffering from depression, please seek help!