Going away to college is one of the most life changing events that happens in any young adult’s life, and it’s common for many college students to experience feelings of sadness and loneliness when they go away to school.
David Daskovsky, senior psychologist at Yellowbrick, says students often feel sad and lonely, especially during their freshman year, as they are bombarded with an avalanche of changes – everything from separation and loss of family and friends, the pressure of dealing with more rigorous coursework, and the challenge of having to figure out where they fit in socially.
“It’s remarkable anybody makes the transition unscathed,” Daskovsky says.
But for some students, these feelings of sadness and loneliness can turn into major battles with depression that can lead to them dropping out of school or committing suicide.
In fact, a 2009 study from the University of Michigan found that college students with depression were more than twice as likely to drop out of school, and a 2009 report in Professional Psychology showed that more than half of all college students have contemplated suicide.
So if you’re a parent of a college student, how do you know if your son or daughter’s feelings of sadness are normal or are a sign of more serious depression?
Daskovsky says it’s important to keep the lines of communication open so you’re able to tell what’s going on with your son or daughter’s mental health.
“If someone is just homesick, they would be sad, but they would be able to function,” Daskovsky says. “But if somebody who normally would be communicative is not responding to texts or calls, or is not sleeping or losing interest in things that used to be pleasurable, that might be a sign of depression.”
Other signs of depression can include:
Daskovsky says students may also become depressed if they feel like they don’t have a specific direction for where their life is going or if they feel they have failed to live up to their parents’ expectations.
If you suspect that your son or daughter may be depressed at college, here are some things you can do:
Get more information about Yellowbrick’s approach to treating depression among college students and young adults.
Yellowbrick collaborates with adolescents and emerging adults, ages 16-30's, their families and participating professionals toward the development and implementation of a strategic “Life Plan.” An integrative, multi-specialty consultation clarifies strengths, limitations, and risks, and defines motivations, goals and choices.
A mental health condition that’s characterized by intense shifts in mood including both manic and depressive episodes.
People living with Major Depressive Disorder, or MDD, experience episodes of depression and sadness that are debilitating to daily life.
Those living with anxiety disorders experience high levels of anxiety and stress that interfere negatively with daily life.
A mental health issue in which a person’s cognitive function is impaired, resulting in symptoms like experiencing challenges with conducting speech, reading and writing, and behavior.
Mental health disorders that negatively affect a person’s behaviors, thought patterns, and function. People diagnosed with these disorders experience challenges with managing relationships and understanding various situations.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that people can develop as a result of experiencing traumatic situations, characterized by symptoms including flashbacks, avoidance behaviors, and more.
A mental health condition that is characterized by specific symptoms of forgetfulness and lack of concentration, which makes it challenging to complete necessary tasks.
Mental health conditions that interfere with a person’s eating habits, thought patterns, and behaviors in negative ways.
A mental health disorder diagnosable with the DSM-5 that is characterized by both obsessions and compulsive behaviors.