Joining college is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times in the lives of young people. However, it can be equally challenging. Life as a freshman, especially for those leaving their parents’ homes for the first time may bring forth some challenges. Most students struggle to cope with college independence as they find their way in and out of campus. The weight of these challenges during the college period may trigger depression. What are some of the ways to deal with college depression?
Student life is not easy for everybody. The idyllic image of a university equally represents an unhealthy space for some students. Small or large setbacks often verbalized by students, such as “school is killing me,” or “College makes me depressed,” can push them to the edge. Regardless if you have previously been depressed or not, college life is a potential catalyst for the onset of a number of mental health problems, college depression being a common condition.
That said, if you find yourself in this fold, below are insights on how to handle college depression successfully.
It is quite impossible to cope with depression alone. The first step in dealing with college depression is accepting that you have a problem. You should then engage trained and licensed mental health professionals who can provide support to relieve your symptoms. Engaging a psychotherapist helps individuals to identify the causative factors and the best possible ways to address them.
According to the American Psychological Association, psychotherapy significantly helps in reducing symptoms of depression and preventing future episodes. Both mild and severe forms of depression are treatable. However, mild depression can progress to serious depression if left unattended. Remember that depression is just like any other common illness affecting millions. It should not push you to feel alone
Practice Mindful Exercises
Mindful exercises are activities that keep individuals mindful. Being mindful is staying aware and conscious of the present surroundings and activities. Whereas it might sound simple, staying mindful is not easy. You will need extensive exercises to develop the ability to be always conscious of the surroundings and be connected to the current happenings.
As a college student, you might have a lot in your hands. Juggling from class assignments to work and friends may make it difficult to focus without thinking about what you should do next. It also seems impossible to stay in the present moment with frequent distractions from friends and mobile phones.
Fortunately, there are several methods to learn and practice mindful exercises. You can meet a therapist, attend yoga classes that emphasize mindfulness or read and practice different mindful exercises on your own. Listening to mindfulness meditation audios and attending meditation classes can also help. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapies not only help students fall out of college depression but also reduces relapse rates
Spend Time in Nature
As simple as it may look, spending time in nature has proven to reduce the symptoms of depression. Spending time and connecting with nature is a model therapy that has been linked to improving depression and overall mental health. This is called Ecotherapy, green therapy, or nature therapy.
Ecotherapy is proven to reduce heart rate, blood pressure, boost the immune system, and reduces the production of stress hormones, thus improving an individual’s overall wellbeing. Therefore, find time to sneak into the woods at least once a week to improve your mental health.
Engage in Exercises
Exercising has countless physical health benefits, such as reducing body fat, improving strength, lowering blood pressure, and strengthening the heart muscles. It also has several mental health benefits that can help depressed students fall out of college depression.
Engaging in frequent exercise is beneficial in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate depression. For sure, it can be challenging for any depressed students to find motivation and time to exercise. However, most colleges and universities invest in a plethora of recreational facilities for students’ benefits.
Take full advantage of your college’s fully stocked gym, stationary bikes, basketball courts, swimming pools, and more to relieve your mental pressure. Note that you are paying for these resources, whether you put them to use or not. As added advantages, engaging in exercises will help you improve memory and thinking skills.
Strengthen Social Connections
Going to college means leaving your family members, friends, and close people to start a new life in a new city with new people. Many students find this hard at first. However, as time goes by, you will meet new friends, from your class, hostel, or clubs, and develop friendships. Developing good social connections in school is a good way to minimize the effects of stress.
Since stress can exacerbate the symptoms of depression, having strong social connections can help in reducing the impact of stress in a new environment. Also, note that depression thrives in conditions with social isolation and loneliness. Therefore, you should focus on developing meaningful social connections through various activities at school. You should, as well, find methods to stay connected with family and friends back at home.
The Bottom Line
Verbal statements such as “school is killing me,” and “college makes me depressed,” are just but indicators of impending mental illness. Regardless if you are already battling it or on the verge, remember that you don’t have to battle it alone. Seek help from professionals, talk to your friends, improve your nutrition, improve your sleeping habits, and avoid drug and alcohol use to minimize and treat these symptoms.