Depression in college students: everything you need to know

Depression in college students is more common than we think. Academic pressure, financial problems, difficulties in social relationships, lack of sense of life, emotional mismanagement. The conditioning factors that mediate this mental health problem are multiple and the effects are very serious.

The suicide rate among the youngest population and, specifically, that which is pursuing a university degree, is increasingly high. Thus, and although this time is idealized from the outside and we think that few stages can be happier, the reality is quite another. That transition in which the adolescent becomes a young adult remains a psychological challenge.

The saddest thing is that we still do not have adequate means to prevent, detect and support. The presence of counselors or psychological assistance teams in universities continues to be absent in many cases. The suffering, loneliness, and anguish that students often experience is channeled into dangerous practices, such as drugs.

Depression in college students: symptoms and causes

Depression in college students is a fact that has been going on for decades. It should be noted that in recent years the field of mental health has focused a little more on this. There are many social organizations that show interest in developing new mechanisms to tackle the problem.

Studies carried out in collaboration with Harvard University, Vrije University, Amsterdam and Friedrich-Alexander Nuremberg-Erlangen, in Germany, have already explored what kind of clinical strategies would be the most suitable to attend to this population group.

Be that as it may, there is a fact. This type of depression is of paramount importance. From a social point of view we have a large group of young people who end up dropping out of their studies.

On the other hand, from a psychological perspective, the challenge is decisive. It is not just about knowing how to serve them; the key is to prevent discouraging situations, maladaptive behaviors, unhappiness and suicide attempts.

Depression rates are more common in health and law students.

You may be interested in reading: Existential depression: when everything loses meaning

What is college depression?

College depression is a mood disorder that appears in students between the ages of 17 and 25. Although it is not a diagnostic entity that appears as such in manuals such as the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it is easy to identify it by its own characteristics.

It is a reality conditioned by specific characteristics. The transition from adolescence to adulthood, relational problems, academic pressure and financial difficulties are usually the main triggers.

What are the symptoms?

When we talk about psychological disorders and mental conditions, there is usually a lot of variability. Not all people express, live and suffer from depression in the same way. However, common elements always appear that help us to identify.

Scientific studies, such as those carried out by Dr. Terhi Aalto of the Finnish National Institute of Mental Health, tell us about the following indicators:

  • Irritability: feeling of sadness combined with moodiness, apathy and lack of hope.
  • Alterations: in sleeping habits and changes in diet.
  • Constant exhaustion: with difficulty concentrating and low academic performance.
  • Loss of interest in activities: sport, socialize.
  • Dolores: back and headaches.
  • Addictions: drugs or alcohol are used as an escape mechanism.
  • Weightloss.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Causes of depression in college students

For what is this? What triggers are there for depression in college students? There is not really just one factor. We are facing an emotional, social and psychological complexity that encompasses multiple elements.

In the first place, they are in a complex transition that is that which goes from adolescence to maturity. A stage of great responsibilities opens. Academic pressure, uncertainty and economic problems are elements of great relevance.

We cannot ignore the relational. It is in this period where new emotional challenges, relationship and friendship problems open up. In the university the dynamics of bullying. Many live with the sadness and anxiety of having left family and friends in their cities of origin.

Likewise, we must also speak of the lack of vital meaning. Many students are not sure what they are going to do tomorroweven if they really like that college degree.

To all these ingredients we must add another that tends to cloud it and complicate it much more. Technology and social media are that parallel universe from which they filter the world. The distortion and pressure that the digital universe creates is another conditioner.

You may also be interested in: Nighttime anxiety: keys to overcome it

When it comes to tackling depression in college, we need the collaboration of families and teachers.

Therapeutic strategies for depression in college students

Depression in college students is a reality on the rise. To prevent, detect and treat we need the collaboration of all social agents. Parents and teachers should be those close figures capable of identifying the young person who suffers, who neglects studies and who has lost interest in almost everything.

What type of therapeutic approach is the most suitable in these cases? There are several therapies that can be used and that are effective:

  • Behavioral activation therapy: This approach seeks to enable the person to cope with life's problems. It addresses both the conditions that have caused depression and the strategies to cope with it. The objective is activate the person to be responsible for your recovery.
  • Cognitive therapy: in this case, the goal is to help the student become aware of the debilitating thoughts that fuel their discomfort and suffering. It also facilitates emotional management and the introduction of healthier behaviors.
  • Problem resolution: This is another essential competence in coping with depression. Being able to handle everyday challenges with good resources and strategies is an indisputable pillar.
  • Social skills: we can have young people with clear limitations in this area. Teaching them to be assertive, to know how to communicate and to relate through emotional intelligence is an ideal strategy.

Depression in college students is a subject of indisputable social urgency. Investing in mental health for our youth is investing in the future.