They say that your college years are some of the best years of your life, but it’s not without its complications. Today’s young adults are, unfortunately, faced with so many different challenges from their family and friends to society and the educational system, that it can be a lot to bear. Without the proper tools to cope with the associated emotions from these pressures, many students develop mental health problems that go untreated.
While there is more awareness about mental health and the importance of speaking up, all too often college students suffer in silence and enter the world as wounded adults. Essentially, educating them on the various types of mental illnesses, common triggers, and effective preventative measures or treatment options can encourage more students to pay attention and ask for help.
You’re away from home, trying to do the best you can with your grades, hoping to find people you fit in with, trying to survive on a shoestring budget, and navigating the real-world. This can begin to weigh heavily on a college student. Every week they’re away from loved ones, every bad grade they get on an assignment, and every rejection they get from their peers, causes some to feel sad, depleted, hopeless, and even depressed.
The symptoms of depression include loss of appetite (or increased appetite), long periods of sadness, insomnia or oversleeping, isolation from friends and activities once enjoyed, stomach aches, headaches, body aches, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide. If you have been experiencing one or all of these symptoms, it is important that you reach out for help. Whether it be through a school counseling group or an outside source like a Santa Barbara mental health treatment center, treating your depression is essentially a matter of life or death.
Will you be able to pass the test? How will you juggle your part-time job and studying for your final exams? Will you fit in at the party you got invited to? These are all common questions going through a college student’s head. Trying to juggle their studies, jobs, and social life can bring with it a lot of anxiety. While some of this is a normal response to pressure, experiencing this on a daily basis can have a negative impact on your education and overall health.
Think your anxiety might be more than just situational? If you’re constantly worried, quickly agitated, you’re always on edge, you can barely get any sleep, you can’t concentrate, you avoid social events out of fear, or you experience panic attacks (increased heart rate, perspiration, shaky voice, etc), you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
Drugs, alcohol, and college campuses, unfortunately, go hand in hand. Students have access to everything from uppers to pull all-nighters to downers to help them get rest and everything in between. Some students take these substances to try to keep control of all the pressure they’re under or to excel in their studies while others simply want to experiment and “have fun”. In any event, the continued use of these substances can harm your physical and mental wellbeing.
How do you know when you have a substance abuse problem or an addiction? If your thoughts are filled with using the substances again, you can’t seem to go a long period of time without using, you continue to use despite the consequences, you begin engaging in reckless behaviors to obtain it (like stealing), you start having money problems trying to acquire more, you hide or isolate yourself from others, or you experience serious withdrawal symptoms when you try to go cold turkey.
Caring for Your Emotional Health in College
With all the pressure you’re under it can be hard to stay sane at times. Below, are a few quick suggestions on how to care for your emotional well-being in college.
- Eat healthily – a healthy diet goes a long way to maintaining your mental health. Be sure that you’re consuming enough green leafy veggies, fresh fruits, and lean protein.
- Get Sleep – Those all-nighters do nothing for your emotional wellbeing. No matter how crazy your school and work schedule are, you need to adjust things so that you’re getting at least 7 hours of rest each night.
- Exercise – Staying active helps to boost those feel-good hormones in your body. Try to get up and engage in physical activity at least 5 days a week for an hour each time.
- Pencil in time for fun – All work and no play is definitely going to stress you out. Find time in your schedule to do things that bring you happiness.
The many pressures put on young adults in college, unfortunately, aren’t going away any time soon. Essentially taking preventative measures like eating right, exercising, getting good rest, and carving out time for fun can help to reduce the likelihood of young adults developing such illness. Be that as it may, should you or someone you know, however, be experiencing any of the symptoms for depression, anxiety, or addiction listed above, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.