Mental Health: Depression


Article written by in conjunction with Safety, Health & Consumer Council, Becky Fournier

Mental health issues are becoming more prevalent in the college setting, which is why it is important for students and concerned family members to be familiar with it.

This guide is designed to help you identify the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues for college students. If left untreated, these issues can surely escalate and become debilitating for students. With that said, this guide will guide you on where and when to seek help as well. If you feel that you might be battling some mental issues or know someone that might be, then it is important to take action now rather than later.

To give you a quick idea on the statistics of mental health issues that students face during their college years, the National Alliance on Mental Illness demonstrates that:


Mental health issues can take many forms. The popular ones include depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and addiction. While it may be difficult to come to terms with any illness, it’s important to be aware and be familiar with the resources available whenever they are needed.

Dig Deeper: Types of Mental Health Issues


What is depression?

Students will likely experience some sort of mild depression at the very least some time during their college years, which can be normal. However, it’s crucial to know when you or someone might be going overboard and need medical help. Basically, depression is a type of brain disorder that is likely caused by a combination of genetics, environmental, biological, and psychological factors. More students than ever have been going in to see the doctors to get treated for depression today.


Why is depression dangerous and something to take seriously?

  • While it is a common illness that often makes you feel helpless and despondent, it can really interfere with your life and make it difficult to work, rest, and eat. When it starts to affect your way of living, then it's time to consider taking action to remediating the illness.
  • If left untreated, it can lead to other more severe symptoms and/or suicide.

What are the common symptoms of depression?

Everyone is different, so the symptoms may vary from person to person. How someone deals with depression will also differ greatly. If you’re wondering whether you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please consider the following symptoms on a general scale:

  • Feelings of sadness or helplessness
  • Fatigue, loss of motivation
  • Sleeplesness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Change in appetite/weight
  • Loss of intrest in social activities
  • Slowed thinking or speech
  • Thoughts of dying

Of course, we all have our good and bad days, and it’s completely normal to feel one or some of these emotions every now and then. For example, if you’re new to college and just moved away from home, you might feel an increased level of sadness, or might also have a hard time concentrating because you’re thinking about your family. It can be pretty stressful being away from home and having to adjust to a new lifestyle. Keeping these emotions in check and communicating frequently with those you trust about your feelings is the right way to adjust and be healthy. People can always see things more clearly when they aren’t dealing with it directly themselves, so you may be able to get valuable advice from a trustworthy family member or friend.

However, if you feel that you might be feeling one or more of these on a regular basis, then you may want to check into your school’s mental health center and get evaluated. A health care professional will be able to assess and better help you determine what medications you need to take to improve, if any at all, or give more specific advice catered to your symptoms. Many people fail to get checked out because they are in denial or feel embarrassed to do so, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In this case, it’s also better to get treated while the symptoms are fresh, rather than wait until it’s too late. Everyone has their own insecurities, and this shouldn’t be one of them.

How Do I Know If I’m Depressed?

Again, symptoms are going to vary greatly from person to person, but here are some questions to consider asking yourself:

Does your family have a history of depression?

Depression can be genetic, so if you do have history and are feeling some of the symptoms mentioned above on a severe level, then it may be worthwhile to check into a doctor’s office to get evaluated.

Do you often experience extreme sadness or hopelessness?

Despondence every now and then is completely normal, but if you find that these feelings are overbearing and potentially affecting your day-to-day life, it’s time to seek help.

Have you been resorting to alcohol and drugs to alleviate any negative feelings?

Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs are both not great escapes to relieving any pain or discomfort in feelings. They may be a temporary solution, but that’s about it. They may be a temporary solution, but that’s about it. Spare yourself possible lung cancer and liver damage by getting the proper medications that you need to fight depression as early as possible.

Do you often think about commiting suicide?

Similar to alcohol and drugs, suicide is never the answer. Even though it may seem like people are busy living their lives, you’d be surprised at how people will stop to talk if they see you open up and needing help. So, don’t ever hesitate to reach out to someone trustworthy to share your feelings with. That person can help guide you to the right people to get help before it’s too late. Life is not easy feat for anyone, and if you don’t feel comfortable opening up to a friend or family member, there are always counselors on campus that you can turn to confidentially.

Additional Resources: Depression

  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America - Learn more about anxiety and depression, how it affects people, and the measures to take before the condition(s) get worse. Get additional links that are designed for those looking for help and get a beter understanding of depressive mental illness.
  • ULifeline - This is an online resource designed for college students to get information on tips for helping friends in crisis and suggestions for developing and sustaining good wellness habits.
  • National Institute of Mental Health - Learn more in depth about the symptoms of depression and resources for getting help.
  • American College Health Association - Check out the numerous resources available at the ACHA, such as helplines, brochures on depression, and external links for getting help.
  • The Jed Foundation - This foundation supports mental health awareness nationally and connects students with health care providers.