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College depression: What parents need to know
College depression is a common problem. Understand why the transition to college makes young adults vulnerable to depression — and what you can do about it.By Mayo Clinic staff
Helping your child make the emotional transition to college can be a major undertaking. Know how to identify whether your child is having trouble dealing with this new stage of life — and what you can do to help.
What is college depression and why are college students vulnerable to it?
College depression isn't a clinical diagnosis. Instead, college depression is a form of an adjustment disorder — a type of stress-related mental illness — or depression.
College students face many challenges, pressures and anxieties that can cause them to feel overwhelmed. They may be living on their own for the first time and feeling homesick. They may also be adapting to a new schedule and workload, adjusting to life with roommates, and figuring out how to belong. Dealing with these changes during the transition from adolescence to adulthood can trigger or unmask so-called college depression in some young adults.
What are the impacts of college depression?
College students dealing with depression are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and perform poorly in school than are their peers. Difficulty concentrating may cause a young adult to have trouble finishing schoolwork, skip classes, lose interest in extracurricular activities or even drop out.
What are the signs that a student is dealing with college depression?
Signs and symptoms that a student may be experiencing college depression include:
- Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
- Irritability, frustration, agitation or restlessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
- Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble with thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
Typically, signs and symptoms of an adjustment disorder begin within three months of a stressful life event, such as going away to school. Depression, however, may occur at any time.Next page
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