According to healthline.com, 44% of college students report experiencing symptoms of depression, yet this same study also shows that 75% of college students with mental health illnesses do not seek help for their problems. Whether the reason for this depression is homesickness, academic stress, or personal issues, every student should know how to handle depression should it begin to affect them. With suicide being the third leading cause of death among 15 - 24 year olds in the United States, educating college students on the dangers of untreated depression should be a top priority for students everywhere.
Here are some ways to seek help.
Know the Symptoms
Depression can be easy to shrug off and dismiss as a temporary “mood” when it first sets in, but in reality depression is nothing but serious. Knowing the symptoms and recognizing them when they hit can allow you to take action to get help sooner. For more information about symptoms of depression, check out HelpGuide.org, a non-profit website dedicated to information on mental health and illnesses.
Of course, it’s also important to remember that only a qualified medical professional can officially diagnose depression. It’s best to ask for the opinion of a professional if you believe you or someone you know may be afflicted with the disorder.
Know Your Support System
A support system can be your friends, your teachers, or your family back home. Keep in touch with those who bring a bit of happiness and positivity to your life so that when you’re feeling down, you always have someone to help lift you back up. Whether it be a close friend or a school guidance counselor, having someone to support you and having a place where you can safely get your feelings off your chest is key in conquering depression. Depression isn’t something anyone should go through alone.
Improve Your Health
Mental and physical health goes hand in hand. Eating a couple of vegetables, taking a jog, and getting enough sleep certainly isn’t the cure for depression, but when your body feels good, it paves the way for your mind to feel better, too. It’s important to take care of yourself in every way possible, and choosing to adopt a healthy lifestyle can only help. Your mental state may be something you have little control over, but choosing a pattern of healthy behaviors is a lifestyle decision you can control.
Stay Away from Harmful Substances
Partying may seem like a good mood boost, but remember that alcohol is a depressant. Ultimately, drugs and alcohol are damaging to all aspects of health, both physical and mental, and seeking temporary refuge in risky behaviors is a long, slippery slope that doesn’t solve the root of the problem and only creates more issues down the road.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
Some cases of depression are seasonal or less severe than others (though all cases of depression are valid). If the problem persists or seems unmanageable, never be afraid to talk to a medical professional about it. Medication can help those with mental illnesses control their symptoms and get back on track towards a happy, healthy life, and there’s never any shame in wanting that.