Is Your College Student Depressed? Look for These Telltale Signs
College can be an equally exciting and stressful time for students. For most students, it is their first time living away from home, combined with the overwhelming pressure to do well academically, make new friends, and start to figure out their career goals. For some students, this stress can lead to feelings of sadness, loss of energy, loss of motivation, and even hopelessness. According to the MayoClinic, depression and anxiety are common among almost half the college population. So, if you’re worried your college student may be depressed, here are some telltale signs it is time for them to seek psychotherapy for depression.
While it is common for students to occasionally skip class, it may be a sign of depression if a student is repeatedly skipping class. When students are depressed, they may lose interest in things that they once enjoyed or have a responsibility to complete, such as attending class on a regular basis. They may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work to do, the difficulty of the class, or they may be struggling with how to manage their time more efficiently. As a result, they may end up feeling sad, guilty, or even afraid to ask for help and just avoid attending class altogether.
Depression can make it difficult to concentrate and focus, which can lead to poor academic performance. If your student’s grades have suddenly dropped substantially from the level they are used to performing at, they may benefit from executive function strategies to help with planning, organizing, time management, task management, and problem-solving skills to help manage their coursework better. However, if they are also lacking motivation, energy, sleeping too much, or completely lost interest in other activities they used to (such as working out or socializing) these may be critical signs that your college student is depressed.
Change in Appetite
A sudden change in appetite (either eating too much or too little) may also be a major sign of depression. When people are depressed, their appetites can change by overeating or losing their appetite altogether. Additionally, some people may start eating foods that are comforting, such as foods high in fat or sugar, but are unhealthy and can further worsen their mood. It can be hard to keep track of what your college student is eating if they go to school away from home. If this is the case, try to stay up-to-date on their routine. Therapy can be a great foundation for rebuilding healthy habits around food and eating
When people are depressed, they may start to isolate themselves from friends and family. If your college student is suddenly spending all their time in their room and not going out with friends, it may be time to intervene. It’s important to reach out to them and let them know they are not alone. Go for a visit if you have the opportunity, and offer to take them out for a meal to get off campus for a little bit if it is feasible. Additionally, therapy can not only facilitate a structured time to connect with another person, but the therapist can recommend strategies to help build connections if your college student is having a hard time meeting people.
Lack of Hygiene
A change in hygiene habits is a telltale sign that someone is struggling from poor motivation and lack of energy, which is likely due to feelings of depression. If your college student is no longer showering, doing their laundry, or cleaning their room, they are likely experiencing a negative change in mood related to depression and would benefit from therapy. Falling behind on hygiene is a normal part of depression. Make sure that your college student knows that so you can work with them to figure out a plan moving forward.
Depression can happen to anyone at any time. College students are especially susceptible to depression due to the stress of academics, social pressure, and figuring out their future. Depression therapy is available for your loved one, both in-person and virtually. We can also address executive function deficits related to depression so your college student has specific tools to get back on track. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Elements Psychological Services today for these services.