College students are experiencing severe depression in their environments all across the country. The college depression rate have not been getting better, but it has been getting worse over the years.
Depression is a major depressive disorder is a serious medical illness that negatively affects people feelings, their actions, and their thinking, according to American Psychiatric Association.
The depression rate is very high and the amount of young people with it have tripled compare to the 1950s, according to the American College Health Association known as ACHA also.
Thirty percent of college students reported that they got so depressed that they could not function or concentrate, according to the National Institute on Mental Health also known as NAMI.
“In my experience, students often become depressed when their system of support changes from the high school environment where they are accustomed to seeing the same faces every day and having a very regular schedule and regular expectations to come into a new environment that they are often times faced with challenges that they are not accustomed to. Often times they are very fearful of failure, they may be have a difficulty adjusting to the new social environment, ” said Karen Reed, a counselor at the Mercy College.
There are many different reasons students feel fear, scared, or alone when they arrive at college. “ I observe a lot of students having a lot of anxiety and fears about speaking new students and professors,” said Reed. “Fear that they are inadequate unable to manage the stresses of college. Often times they can feel poorly adjusted to the new expectations to growing up in general having to through a new face in their life.”
The stress of college can overwhelm and take over people’s lives. They might not know how to fit it in their lives normally with so much different changes and the new environment.
Reed said, “There is clinical depression which can be related to some of the chemistry in your brain being very off and there is also an adjustment disorder which can come with new students coming into the college environment and not feeling good enough.”
“Balance and connection to be the two main factors seem to get out of whack when students come to college. Basically balance is healthy nutrition, finding times to distress. Take walks , communicate with friends or make new connections where people can listen to what you are stressed about to unload a little and release some of the tension. Connecting which would be joining some sort of group or activity where you can have a sense of activity where people are waiting for you and people are smiling at you. You wouldn’t just be coming to school, taking a class, getting on the train, going home, sitting with your books, and going to bed or going to work,” according to Reed.
College is supposed to be a learning environment but it should be fun sometimes too. It is about the experiences and knowledge that is gained during time there. Also, meeting and networking with people is so important.
“A lot of students don’t view college as an opportunity for personal growth. They are so entrenched in the idea that I am spending money, I have make my family happy, I have to do this and I have to pass these classes. They don’t understand that the aspect of college that focus on wellness and health because as adults we need to be able to balance that. Balance connection, exercise and diet are important,” said Reed.
“As a college student, I had depression before. I found out doing physical activity and finding hobbies helped get over it. It’s different for everyone else. If feels like the end of the world but it’s not.,” said Matthew Williams, senior Media Studies
Health is important when it comes with dealing and improving depression. There are certain parts of our body that needs to take care of or it will negatively affect you.
“What a lot of people are now learning that the brain is an organ. The same way the heart, the lung,and the liver are organs, the brain is made of organic matter. When the proper nutrients, enzymes, and chemicals are not fed to the brain there can be a deficient. I try to encourage my students to make sure their iron levels, magnesium levels, their B12, and their probiotics are healthy,” said Reed.
Junk food taste good and a lot of college students eat a lot of that but it also affects not just your body but your mind . “That’s one thing while students are sucking down pizza and Pepsi to keep them going they are losing tons of nutrients. They are not realizing that they are run down. Being run down can lead to a deficient in serotonin and dopamine which can cause you to feel much more depressed and isolated,” said Reed.
Serotonin and dopamine are chemical in the brain that play a big role in helping your body move easily. It also helps to helps keep people remain calm, focused, and also resist the depression, according to Live Strong.
Humans need rest and need a break sometimes. Some students that go to school full time,work at same time, and even commute may not get enough time for themselves. This can definitely overwhelm them and their body.
“Make time for yourself as important as working or going to class. If there is an hour in between, when you wake up, or before you go to bed, find a Youtube clip to do some breathing, meditation, or a little bit of stretching. Something to decrease the adrenaline in your body. When you’re stressed, your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Adrenaline comes from the adrenal gland, it is meant to power you up and charge you forward,” Reed said.
Karen stresses the importance of finding ways to calm yourself and your adrenaline. “The problem is when you have too much of that but you are not maintaining any way to calm yourself down, you can go into overload. You would have to find a way to decrease the overload.”
Depression is a medical illness,and it treatable better at an early stage. There are a number of treatments to help with depression. The two most commons ones are antidepressants and psychotherapy, according to NAMI.
There are many different options when it comes to calming yourself. Reed offers some advice to help calm down and to help with that overwhelming feeling. “You can use free meditation affirmations while you are on the shuttle, on the bus, in your car. Try to find a group or a few other students where you can sit, relax, and talk while you eat. Make time on the weekend for something pleasurable like meeting with a friend, to get your toes done, to play some sports. Just something to treat your body as if it is valuable because if you burn yourself out, you will have these depressed feelings and often times these serotonin and dopamine in your brain is not being replenished. You’re burning it out but you are not giving yourself time to rebuild it.”
“It’s good to have good home mechanisms within your peer groups. We all have problems and our struggles in life. Just talk about it. Get people that you can talk to, ” said Abeibith, Vet Tech Major.
If one feels like he or she is not sleeping, or their eating is off, or if they have any thoughts of suicide or self harm, one definitely should see a doctor or a counselor to get an evaluation. “I don’t believe medicine is the only answer, I believe wellness comes with a combination of things. Make sure you are safe to get you into some sense of stability.”
You are able to work on negative thoughts using affirmations. Sometimes sleeping and listening to music helps especially through headphones because it helps you to block other sounds out.
Saying positive quotes or phrases helps to like “I believe in the power of my own mind. I believe that I can change my life. I believe I can be successful in school. I know that I am smart. I believe that I can pass this test. I choose success. All of these things as they repeatedly over and over in your mind begin to shift the negative dialogue coming from fear into a more powerful and healthy dialogue,” said Reed.
Reed said that these things take time and practice. “It’s not as if you can do it one time and be like now I am never going to have negative thoughts again. Days, weeks, or years of repetition. It’s same way to play a piano. You have to repeat and practice.”
Sometimes people are scared to face the problems or to tell others what it is happening with them.
Reed says Fear is a natural result of scary or traumatic things happening in our lives and there is nothing wrong with fear because it can be helpful sometimes in our lives. But at the same time we have to recognize if fear is becoming a problem ore barrier to healthy change then we need to be really honest with ourselves about what kind of healthy change we need.
“If fear is maintaining us where we are and where are is not healthy and not well and we are not feeling good about ourselves and our lives then some change is necessary,” said Reed.
Reed adds, “ If they were brave enough to come to college and their brave enough to talk to their PAC mentor then maybe they should be brave enough to just explore their feelings with a counselor. So they can better understand, feel more ready, and strong to start the small changes. Sometimes it’s very small changes that makes big differences overtime,” according to Reed.
“I know that a lot of students suffer from depression especially going between high school and college. It’s a tough and difficult transition. Reach out to people, they need to let their professors know what they are going through so they are no left in the dust wondering what’s going on. Someone will help you,” said English professor, Chris Antzoulis.
College isn’t for everyone and it affects those that don’t really want to be there too. They may feel unhappy, forced, and sad that they are wasting their time. It negatively impacts them because they are not happy.
“If a person hates something then that is something they will have to explore internally because no one can tell you to be happy with something. If you are not happy in college, it’s important that you make a list of what it is you really want in your life and weigh the benefits and the risks of changing your education. Talk to your counselor or PACT mentor, find out if college is necessary for what it is you want to do. I do think every young person should have an idea of what it is that they like to do. Maybe coming to counseling to just find out what they want to do, would be helpful,” said Reed.
“Some of my friends use the counseling department at Mercy to cope with their depression. Have a good friend next to you to always talk to,” said Brianna Wilds, Freshman Health Science OT Major.
“I know people that go to the school and live in the dorms that are depressed. Feel good to talk to anyone at anytime. People are there for you,” said Brooke Anthony, freshman, Major Speech Pathology.
“Use your mentor, use your PACT counselors, use the career office to better make a path for yourself because a lot of students spend a lot of time then realize that they don’t want to do something or not happy with the major they have chosen. They don’t know why they chose it,” said Reed. “Make a mindful decision, understand where your one year, two year, four year lead you and if it is not where you want to go , change it . The sooner, the better because a lot of times it can be really hard once you have gotten to your junior year and realize you prefer something else. Or it can be you don’t like hospitals but you are doing a medical degree.”
“That’s your responsibility to figure out as a young person because you are no longer a child . You are a young adult,” Reed continued.
Connections and networking is very important. When someone keeps everything to themselves it makes them depressed.
“Please to do not be afraid to make connections with people. You cannot be an island, you cannot be isolated, you must have a few people in your life that you are willing to talk to and communicate with so you do not feel like you are drifting in this world alone. Move, exercise, and take nutrient,” said Reed.
Christiana Phillips, a sophomore in Legal Studies, said “I would suggest going to a church. When I was going through depression, going to church helped me alot and getting connected. You meet new people and new friends who are also going through the same or similar things so they can help you. When we are going through depression, it feels like we are alone but it happens often and to a lot of people. Chances are you are not the only one going through it. You can reach out and definitely seek help in areas like church.”
“One way I cope with depression is that I see the brighter things and I know that tomorrow I coming so why not make the most of it while I can. I would think about tomorrow and make sure it would be a better day than it was yesterday. Life is too valuable for you to be depressed. Stop being depressed and get lit,” Sammy W., freshman at Mercy College, Exercise Science.
Samiyyah Williams, a junior studying Behavioral Science Education. “Take it one step at a time. Do one homework at a time. Better days are coming. Talk to a friend”
Jack Hazan, Media Communications, said, “I have dealt with my fair share of depression throughout my 21 years of living. The most important thing when it comes to helping people with depression is being there for them. Don’t just give them advice. Feel some type of empathy and try to relate to them in some sense.”
There are a lot of people willing to help anyone that is going through depression. Don’t be afraid to seek the help. It does not make you weak.
Williams added, “Anyone that have ever thought about suicide, it’s not worth it, it’s no point. It’s not going to help you, it’s not going to help anyone around you. It does pass. I am not thirty years old and I am still walking around perfectly fine. If you are feeling that bad, speak up.”