All Posts Tagged: college depression

frazzled college student

Is The Pandemic Affecting Your College Student’s Mental Health?

Across the country, another year of college is in full swing. Although some schools have gone to strictly virtual learning in an effort to control infection spread among their students, many are combining this option with in-person classes, thus creating more potential for exposure to the virus. Also, many campuses are dealing with students who flaunt social distancing guidelines and gather for parties, which spreads it even more. While many young people were eager to get back to school after being fairly isolated during the summer, these seemingly reckless situations are negatively affecting the mental health of many students.

When the American College Health Association collected information for their Spring, 2020, National College Health Assessment, an average of 49.6 percent of the 50, 307 respondents reported moderate stress levels. Another 24.9 percent said they were experiencing high levels of stress – and that survey only included schools who had begun their data collection prior to March 16, 2020, when many states began shutting down. Today, those numbers are much higher.

In fact, according to a study done at nine public research universities across the U. S. and led in part by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), the incidence of major depressive disorder has more than doubled since Spring, 2019.

Anxiety Symptoms

There are several factors which can indicate whether your college student is suffering from anxiety. They may not have all these symptoms or they may only have a couple, so it’s important to talk to your child if they are experiencing some of these concerns.

  • Problems concentrating on coursework (or in general)
  • Distress about their own health or the health of loved ones
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Trouble sleeping
  • An increase in the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • A worsening of mental health conditions they may already have

There are also physical symptoms of anxiety that can include:

  • Headaches or an increase in migraines
  • Shortness of breath or a rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea and sweating
  • Muscle tension

Self-Care For Student’s Mental Health

To help reduce the mental health aspect of college life during the pandemic, we recommend the following:

  • Know that this is temporary. At some point, we’ll have a vaccine and the pandemic will ease.
  • Meanwhile, stay connected with friends and family, either in person while safely social distancing or via a video application, such as Zoom or Skype.
  • Look for campus support groups, which will help them feel less alone.
  • Maintain a routine. As much as possible, they should try to get up or go to sleep on a schedule, eat at regular mealtimes, do coursework on a schedule, etc.
  • Set daily goals for completing assignments.
  • Set aside time to get outside. Getting fresh air, a change of scenery, and endorphin-releasing exercise can help to rejuvenate the mind.
  • Make time every day to do something they enjoy. It can be as simple as carving out time to read, do yoga or meditate, or write in a journal.
  • Limit online and social media time to avoid being sucked into the gloomy headlines that are so prevalent right now.
  • Know that it is okay to feel scared or angry, homesick, sad or anxious. But they should tell someone how they are feeling and if they seem to be feeling worse.

If these self-care measures aren’t enough to help your student with their distress, suggest they reach out to their campus’ psychological services. The campus counseling center likely can help through phone, telehealth or video platforms. This eliminates the need for your child to visit the center in-person.

We Care

If your college student is struggling with the mental health effects of the pandemic, we also can help. We offer both virtual / online and in-office treatment options. For more information, contact The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email The Center today.

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College Students: Why Are We Seeing an Increase in Psychological Disorders?

College is supposed to be the highlight of young adult lives. It represents a time for independence, new experiences, and carefree living before the “real world” and true responsibilities kick in. So why is it that today’s college students are so susceptible to so many mental health concerns?

The statistics related to psychological disorders and mental health concerns among college students have become so alarming that many are referring to it as a mental health crisis. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 1 in 4 young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental condition.
  • More than 64% of young adults who are no longer in college are no longer attending because of a mental health related reason.
  • Over 30% of students meet the criteria for an alcohol abuse diagnosis.
  • A 2006 survey showed nearly 20% of students had eating disorders whereas a study in the 1980s revealed only 4-5% of students with this concern.
  • The suicide rate for young adults ages 15-24 has tripled since the 1950s.
  • A 2013 survey found that 57% of college women and 40% of college men reported “overwhelming anxiety” in the year leading up to the study.
  • Students are facing college depression. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that, in 2011, the American College Health Association–National College Health Assessment (ACHA–NCHA—a nationwide survey of college students at 2- and 4-year institutions—found that about 30 % of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year.
  • 95% of college counseling center directors state that there are growing concerns on their campus with the number of students who demonstrate significant psychological problems.

What’s Different for Today’s College Student?

There has always been a certain amount of phase of life adjustment anxiety that goes along with leaving a familiar setting and going off to college. But, what could explain why the numbers associated with psychological concerns among college students have risen so greatly over recent years? Surely colleges have always had the same high standards with regard to homework and reports? While that may be true there are, in fact, quite a few factors that could be contributing to these statistical increases:

  • Technology – while one could argue that technology makes college student’s lives easier, it also provides high potential for chaos, information overload, and hyper-connectivity, which can all combine to create additional stress.
  • Lack of family structure – in today’s fast-paced, divorce-heavy world it can be challenging to find young adults who have a stable, reliable family system. When they’re thrust into the new realm of college living this lack of guidance and support can lead to increased mental health concerns.
  • Early education concerns – many studies show that students entering college today are not as prepared for it academically as they should be. Bridging that gap between their lack of knowledge and increased expectations of college versus high school can play a huge role in the psychological issues we see today.
  • Overprotective parents – in today’s world of participation trophies and overindulgent, parents, children are often not prepared to cope with disappointment or negative feedback. This can lead to them entering the college world completely unprepared for higher education’s normal challenges and the resiliency to adjust to them.
  • Economic pressures – high unemployment and a tough economic climate mean parents are less able to help their children with the financial responsibilities of college. Along with this comes an increase in students working in addition to school, and additional issues for them to worry about.

How Can You Help?

Today’s college student needs to understand that it’s okay to talk about the difficulties they’re facing. Even as society becomes more open to discussing mental health concerns there is still a lot of stigma attached to the subject and it can be scary for students to admit there’s a problem. As many of the above factors show, lack of structure and guidance also plays a big role in the psychological troubles of our students. Knowing they have support and understanding can give students a way to plant their feet in and work toward resolving their issues. Take time to help them learn how to prioritize and structure their new responsibilities so they can reduce the chaos that surrounds them.

In some situations, the best resolution will be to seek professional help. A therapist or other mental health professional can help students get to the root of their problems and provide coping techniques that will allow them to move confidently through the rest of their college years.

If you know a college student who is struggling with college phase of life adjustment anxiety or if you need help yourself, contact Dr. Andrew Rosen and The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Delray Beach, Florida at 561-496-1094 or email Dr. Rosen and The Center today.

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