College can be an equally exciting and stressful time for students as they navigate newfound independence, academic challenges and social pressure. For some students, this stress can lead to feelings of sadness, loss of energy, lack 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.
Though it is not uncommon for some students to occasionally skip class, a pattern of repeated absences may be indicative of underlying depression. When students are depressed, they may lose motivation in tasks they have a responsibility to complete, such as attending class regularly. This can result in feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work to do or the difficulty of the class. They may also 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 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. These strategies can assist with planning, organizing, time management, task management, and problem-solving skills to help manage their coursework. 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 sign of depression. When a person is experiencing depression, their appetites can change by overeating or losing their appetite altogether. Some individuals may even turn to comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar. This change in diet can exacerbate their mood and overall health. It can be hard to keep track of what your college student is eating if they attend 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
Depression can lead individuals to retreat from social activities and isolate themselves from their friends and family. If you notice that your college student has been spending an inordinate amount of time alone in their room and avoiding social interactions, it may be time to take action. Reach out to your student and let them know that they have your support and that they are not alone. If possible, make plans to visit them and take them out for a meal to get away from campus for a while. Additionally, therapy is a great tool to facilitate a structured time to connect with another person. Therapists are well equipped to recommend strategies geared towards building connections if your college student is struggling with meeting fellow classmates.
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.
Depression can impact anyone regardless of background. However, 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.