7 Common Drivers of Depression in College & University Students
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While college or university can be an exciting time in your life, it can also cause a flurry of other emotions. There are many negative emotions that are normal to feel during your time in school, such as anxiety, frustration and fear. Sadness is also common for college and university students to experience from time to time. But overwhelming sadness could be a sign of a mental health disorder that’s affecting your day-to-day life.

Depression is a common mental health disorder that can impact every aspect of your life. When you’re in college or university, depression can cause overwhelming negative thoughts and emotions. Those symptoms can cause many roadblocks on the path to graduation. It’s important to recognize the factors that contribute to depression in college and university students so that you can learn how to overcome them.

We’ll talk about how depression affects college and university students and the major factors that contribute to the symptoms. We’ll also talk about how Lightfully U can help.

The basics about depression in college and university students

Depression, or major depressive disorder, goes beyond feeling sad every now and then. Depression is a mental health disorder that causes overwhelming negative feelings and thoughts that can interfere with your quality of life, and physical symptoms such as feeling tired all the time or struggling to fall asleep, and lack of appetite. 

Depression is a mood disorder that affects approximately 7.1% of the adult population in the U.S. and about 44% of the college student population

Common depression symptoms include pervasive feelings of sadness and hopelessness, social isolation, and fatigue. These symptoms can cause college and university students to struggle with:

  • Motivation needed to complete schoolwork
  • Energy to attend classes
  • Isolation from others (missing out on social events as a result)
  • Forming and maintaining friendships with roommates and peers
  • Setting goals following graduation 
  • Physical health, such as lack of nutrition or exercise 
  • Keeping in touch with family if you don’t attend school close to home

7 factors that contribute to depression in college and university students

College and university students experience everyday issues that contribute to their depression symptoms. While these factors are often inevitable for students, learning about what’s contributing to your depression can help you adjust your mindset. You can also learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with them.

Here are seven common drivers of depression in college and university students:

  • Poor grades — A course load for the average college or university student can come with a lot of pressure. If you receive a bad grade on an exam, or you have to retake a course, it can result in common depression symptoms such as lack of motivation or hope for the future. It can make you start to doubt your abilities and affect your self-esteem.

  • Homesickness — College or university is often the first time that you’re living on your own. You’re bound to miss home every now and then. It’s healthy to miss your family and hometown friends, but consistent homesickness can cause overwhelming sadness that makes it difficult to enjoy your independence.

  • Social connections — Making connections with your peers, classmates and roommates can enrich your college/university experience. Social isolation and withdrawal are symptoms of depression, making it difficult to make new connections or attend social events.

  • Money issues — The price tag of college or university goes beyond tuition. College students who don’t receive financial support from their family can struggle to budget for necessities, such as food. While money issues are often a factor in depression, it can be even harder when you’re trying to balance a part-time job with schoolwork.

  • Trying to set future goals — College/university is a stepping stone for many people to reach their long-term goals. Not everyone knows what they want to do after graduation, and that’s OK. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, common symptoms of depression, make it all the more difficult to consider future goals and plans.

  • Sleep deprivation — Getting a good night’s rest plays a pivotal role in your mental health. Not only are insomnia and irregular sleep patterns symptoms of depression, but not getting enough sleep only exacerbates depression symptoms.

  • Unhealthy eating habits — Your diet can be a large contributing factor to your depression. College/university students are known for living off processed and fast food. These foods have very little nutrition that’s necessary for optimal mental health.

Lightfully U helps you develop tools to fight common depression factors in college or university

Even though there are many issues that college and university students encounter daily that contribute to their depression, it doesn’t mean their symptoms can’t be treated. At Lightfully U, we use psychotherapy to help alleviate depression symptoms in college/university students through our Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program, or vIOP.

Our vIOP helps you work through the challenges that contribute to your depression by talking through the underlying causes, utilizing healthy coping mechanisms, and living a life that is guided by your own personal values.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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