College is seen as a fun and liberating period for most students, but this is not always the case. According to a recent study, 47% of college students suffer from depression or anxiety. The students find themselves in new social situations, a massive workload, and new surroundings to which they must adapt. These new challenges can often feel overwhelming, resulting in mental health issues like depression. Depression is a medical condition that affects a person’s mood and how they function. Risk factors among college students include lifestyle changes, chronic stress, genetics, and others. Treatment involves medications or psychotherapy, or a combination of both.
What is Depression?
Depression or major depressive disorder (MDD), is a severe mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, irritability, hopelessness, and mood swings. The disorder is different from the typical mood disorders people experience from time to time. Depression is an ongoing issue that affects how someone feels, thinks, or acts. Depression often persists even after changes in environment or circumstances, and the symptoms can be severe. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks and disrupt daily functioning.
Signs of Depression in College Students
The signs and symptoms vary from mild to severe, but they last for at least two weeks. The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. However, generally, college students struggling with depression will display common symptoms of the condition.
Common symptoms of depression include:
Feeling of hopelessness
Unintentional weight loss or gain
Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
Loss of interest in things that once interested them, such as hobbies, sex or sports
Thoughts of suicide or death
Fatigue or constant low energy
Feelings of worthlessness or fixating on past mistakes or failures
Unexplained guilt can cause students to spiral
Unexplained pain independent of an injury
Patients must present the symptoms for two weeks or more and show decreased levels of functioning to be diagnosed with depression. For many people, depression is a chronic disorder that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. In some students, symptoms of depression can become so hard to manage, leading to thoughts of death or suicide. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people between 15 -34.
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