Statistics and numerous scientific research papers indicate an increase in the number of depressed individuals among young adults and college students in the U.S. Although modern medicine is capable of providing some answers regarding the cause of depression, there are many things about this illness yet to be explained. Medical science and psychology have already shed a lot of light on the topic of depression; however, numerous new findings imply that there are many factors that need more attention. Experts from the U.S., U.K., and China have recently made new breakthrough findings that further confirm the strong correlation between certain physical conditions and depression. Numerous changes in everyday behavior can lead to the development of certain medical conditions and hence, induce feelings of depression.
Even though depression can occur at any stage in life, researchers have noticed that a higher number of young individuals have reported that they have experienced depressive episodes at least at one point in life. Depression can lead to numerous severe physical and mental disorders and reduce the general quality of a person’s life. Preventing depression among college students and young individuals is of extreme importance, and a higher number of leading experts in psychology and medicine are addressing the issue. In this article, we shall now discuss the topic of depression in college students with the aim of providing methods for successful prevention of this mental disorder. Also, we shall analyze factors that can cause depression or increase its severity and overall impact in college students.
Leading Causes of Depression Among College Students
Depression can be triggered or worsened by health issues, such as physical conditions, the emotional state of an individual, and environmental and social factors. Oftentimes, the cause of depression is a combination of various factors, and this mental state rarely has a singular cause. Due to the complexity of factors that lead to depression, it is essential for individuals prone to depression to receive treatment that also comes as a combination of various methods. The complexity of depression causes can be especially visible among college students due to different social, environmental, and emotional changes that occur during the early college years.
Experts have noticed that the beginning of university studies is often followed by drastic changes in one’s life and can lead to the development of anxiety and/or depression. The separation anxiety, lack of confidence, new challenges, change in everyday habits are all factors that can be linked to the development of the early symptoms of depression. College students are faced with numerous challenges that can leave a mark on their general emotional state and their mental health. Oftentimes, students have to endure significant problems that follow the enrolment process, applying for scholarships, or student loans. It is not necessary to experience a life story as traumatizing as Jim Sturgess’ character did in the movie “21” — a student doesn’t need to play blackjack for money and get in trouble with casinos due to a card-counting scandal to have a stressful college enrolment story.
The majority of college students suffer a great deal of emotional stress during their first year, due to multiple and significant life changes. Young students often alter their sleeping patterns, switch to a poorer diet of fast food and an unhealthy snacks, have less physical activity, and spend less time outdoors and in sunlight. Furthermore, some students’ social lives can suffer due to their inability to adjust to the new environment.
The Ambivalent Nature of Major Depressive Disorder
One of the biggest issues regarding major depressive disorder lies in the following phenomenon. Factors that lead to the development of depression are often worsened by depression. Furthermore, the presence of the factors that can cause depression increases during the state of depression. For instance, chronic inflammations, unhealthy diet, certain microbes in the digestive system, and lack of physical activity lead to the rapid development of depression. However, depressed individuals often tend to overeat, rely on poor diet choices, and lose interest in physical activity, thus worsening their general health and developing more severe depression.
Individuals that suffer from depression are usually instinctively inclined towards those practices and habits that hurt their mental state more and deepen their health problems even further. In theory, depression can, in some cases, be caused by physical factors such as diseases, prolonged illness, hormonal or chemical disbalance in the body, and further worsened by the genetic makeup of the individual. Unfortunately, even individuals that suffer from depression induced by physical factors soon develop severe symptoms that have entirely mental, psychological, and emotional nature and consequences. Modern medicine and psychology show us that dealing with depression needs to include dealing with both physical and mental aspects of the disease.
Preventing Depression in College Students
Some individuals are more prone to the development of depression in young age, and many factors, such as social status, gender, history of mental and physical illnesses, and personality traits, influence this. However, it is always difficult to determine whether an individual is prone to the development of depression and anxiety. Sometimes, an individual can develop the symptoms of early depression against all the odds and regardless of their spotless mental health history. Depression can oftentimes be triggered by great emotional trauma or psychological stress even in those individuals that have no genetic and medical predispositions for depression development.
Due to substantial complexity and a wide variety of factors that can cause depression, the prevention of this disorder also needs to be complex, diverse, and strong in its methods. In order to prevent depression, or terminate it in its early stages, college students need to take care of their general physical well-being, improvement of their cognitive abilities, focus and memory, emotional state, everyday habits, and social engagements. Numerous researchers have proved the great importance of healthy nutrition, physical activity, quality sleep during nighttime, and regular exposure to sunlight in depression prevention.
Besides physical health, college students need to take care of their general mental health and quality of their social activities. It has been proven that social networks play a significant role in the development of the early stages of depression. However, other social activities can also induce depression, either directly or indirectly. Alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to the development of depression, regardless of other medical factors.
However, emotional stress is one of the leading causes of depression among college students, and it can be triggered by various factors such as lack of confidence and unhealthy attitude towards one’s goals and responsibilities. Feelings of regret and guilt can also trigger a significant amount of psychological stress that can lead to an unhealthy image of one’s self and thus, lead to more complex mental issues. A healthy attitude towards responsibilities, schedules, expectations, goals, and ambitions is mandatory for college students. Successful prevention of major depressive disorder is only possible if an individual takes care of all aspects of their health, meaning physical health, mental health, and healthy social life.
Successfully treating, stopping, and preventing depression is possible if the issue is approached from all angles and if none of the crucial causes is left neglected. College students fall into a category of people that are especially vulnerable to the development of depression, mostly due to high levels of psychological stress and many large changes that occur in early college years. A certain form of general discipline in life is highly recommendable for college students — they should strive to eat healthy, avoid alcohol consumption, have regular physical activity, quality sleep, and spend more time in the sunlight.
Also, college students should avoid social media and spend time in social circles that promote the general feeling of well-being in them, benefit their emotional state, and promote a healthy lifestyle. Finally, the benefits of spending time outdoors shouldn’t be disregarded when it comes to depression treatment and prevention. Marie Curie thought that exposure to nature could benefit general health and even speed up the treatment of various illnesses. Today, modern British medical experts advise depressed individuals to cultivate plants in their homes. Even though we still need to explore the link between spending time in nature and our mental state, “nature-treatment” shouldn’t be disregarded in depression prevention among college students.