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Depression among College Students

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Depression is a critical mental illness which manifests itself in the form of anxiety and sadness of the affected individual. It is a common feature among college students, mainly lasting for a short while. Treatment of this condition minimizes its duration in a significant way. One needs to seek urgent medical attention to curb the harmful effects of this state. It substantially interferes with one’s daily activities, especially beneficial school work in the case of college students. In the year 2009, a nationwide survey by the American College of Health Association-National College Health Assessment, usually going with the abbreviation ACHA-NCHA, indicated worrying trends among college students. This took place in four-year and two-year institutions of learning. The worrying statistics indicated that almost 30% of students in college reported incidents of depression at some point in the year 2008 (Tartakovsky, 2008).

Cumulative data for the period starting from the year 2008 to the year 2010 reveal that 8.4 percent of full-time college students experienced a considerable depressive episode (Major Depressive Episode) in the previous year.  Another 8.2 percent of other young college students aged 18 to 22 also had similar experiences. Although both groups had similar rates of the past year Major Depressive Episode, other young adults with this condition were more likely than full-time college students to report that the mood related to their Major Depressive Episode had drastic effects on their vital activities and relationships. They also reported that they had experienced the condition more than sixty days in the previous year. The affected students were unable to perform their daily chores (ScienceDaily, 2012).

In other reports, there are revelations that college students in the United States have resorted to massive use of painkillers. That unexpected, huge consumption of such drugs is a sign of likely depressive conditions among the students. This is according to the U.S. Department of Education's Higher Education Center for Alcohol, Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention. Consequently, there have been many assumptions and explanations in attempts to establish causes, symptoms and likely remedial measures for the condition.

During college, students deal with an exceptional amount of stressors. Specifically, college calls for a noteworthy transition. This new life for them entails students experiencing a lot of things for the first time. These include new friends, lifestyle, roommates, and ways of reasoning and exposure to new cultures. When students fail to manage these things, they may start struggling with college life.

Causes of Depressions among College Students

There are a number of causes, ranging from personal issues, peer influence, financial situations and typical college life which distinguish college students from other parties. Although such theories may not apply across the board, they give a clue about the whole dilemma and may help in identifying the right measures to improve the situation.

To begin with, there is the issue of identity disorientation. This occurs as a result of students leaving their homes and family members as they join colleges. In most cases, many of them have to go to colleges unusually far from their real homes. When a person parts with the people they love, the outcome could be in the form of depression. College students, on admission into their respective learning centers, begin to miss their parents, siblings and their close, childhood friends. It becomes an emotional matter, which may lead to depression (ScienceDaily, 2012).

Besides, it is a common phenomenon for students living away from their homes to feel lonely and isolated. In college, the environment is usually diverse. This means that a student has to bear with the harsh reality of coexisting with entirely new people. Learning institutions are cosmopolitan in nature. As a result, people of different religious backgrounds, races, ages and gender have to live together, in spite of the strange practices, beliefs and norms that different persons embrace. Adjusting to such dramatic changes may be difficult to some individuals. In the process, mental pressures accumulate leading to serious depressive cases (Tartakovsky, 2008).

Additionally, academic work in colleges is usually more complex than what academic activities in previous learning institutions. This is not usually easy for all college entrants. Some may not bear with such difficulty, a case that will come in the form of stress resulting from feelings of failure. The result could be critical Major Depressive Episodes to the affected person.

In colleges, many students attempt to experiment and enjoy their sexual abilities as active, normal teenagers and adults. The environment favors such adventures since many of the student’s get an opportunity to mingle freely with colleagues of the opposite sex with little interference from school administration and other people, like parents. They get the freedom to socialize freely, unlike when they are at home, or when still in junior levels of learning. Most of them end up in relationships with feeble foundations. Such relationships never last, but when they do they bring many challenges to either of the partner of the partners or both of them. Consequently, this leads to stressful moments full of anger and frustrations that constitute depression (ScienceDaily, 2012).

Furthermore, students in colleges face challenges of surviving because they have to live according to limited sources available to them. Most of them rely on pocket money for sustaining their lives in school. Sometimes, there are problems getting the money to support most of their needs. Instead, of concentrating on their academic work, many students become occupied with thoughts finding money for their survival. The school work and such financial difficulties usually overwhelm most students. The faint-hearted usually end up as victims of severe mental problems. This is, in essence, one of the major causes of depressive conditions among college students. This is because the largest percentage of them does not have any income-generating source on which to depend.

Signs of Depression

Depression is not a physical object that people see with their naked eyes. It is a combination of strong emotions as a result of a challenging experience in one’s life. One can perceive it through sudden changes in one’s behavior. They start acting in ways that are not typical of them. An aspect of strange behavior, characterized with anger, anxiety and sadness, sets in the mind of the victim. It becomes difficult for an individual to relate normally with other people.

Firstly, people suffering from major depressive episodes have thoughts of committing suicide. Depression makes someone to lose meaning in life. They consider themselves useless and unworthy of living. In other incidents, affected students resort to the unpleasant activity of unchecked alcohol drinking and drug abuse. The victims also show signs of anxiety and high temper. Essentially, most people suffering from depression have little tolerance towards others. They also lack self control and can easily lose their temper. It  is also common among victims to remain silent and distance themselves. They easily become irritable because they cannot control themselves. They shed tears frequently without any good reason. In short, people suffering from depression become utterly emotional, even in trivial matters. This makes them act unreasonably leading to commit stupid, irresponsible behavior (“Major Depressive Episode among Full-Time College Students and Other Young Adults, Aged 18 to 22”, n.d.).

How to Avoid Depression

Health experts and psychologists offer a number of options in the quest to avert the serious incidents of depression. Although no one gives a single, accurate prescription of preventing and treating that condition, they offer significant relief and comfort both to the victim and his or her closest relative.

Health experts recommend physical fitness exercises for college as a remedy and preventive measure against depression. Studies indicate that most individuals, not just students, who spend their time idling are most vulnerable to get depressions. Besides their function of improving the physical form of a person, regular, physical exercises have therapeutic benefits, as well. It is also advisable for college students to embrace technology in facilitating communication. This helps speak out any pressing matter with their loved ones as a way of reducing incidents of depressions. Similarly, students should be free to socialize with their colleagues in the college. This changes the attention of one’s mind to other people instead of spending time worrying about their challenges in life. Since there are counseling services within institutions of learning, students ought to make use of such facilities as soon as they start experiencing symptoms of depression. At times, people need counseling to handle their problems. People with the condition of depression require encouragement and motivation to regain the meaning of life. Besides, students ought to know that resorting to habits of drinking and drug abuse does not help. In fact, such behavior is a recipe for additional challenges that compound the factors of depression (Peterson, 2002).

Conclusion

The reality is that college students, from the past and even today, have always been serious victims of depressions. As much as people talk about, concerned parties have made extremely little effort to address the matter. Irresponsible behavior of alcohol drinking and other morally unacceptable behavior is usually a product of depression. The government has the responsibility to address the issue seriously and effectively. Parents should also act responsibly in ensuring that their children grow up in environments that exert little mental pressures on them. Finally, college students ought to act maturely and follow the right procedures in addressing their own problems.

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