Emotional ups and downs are a natural part of any college experience. In fact, one study showed that nearly half of all college students will experience a mental disorder at least once in their four years, with most of those cases being depression. When we leave home, meet people from other places, and are faced with the greater academic and social pressures of college, it can take time and a willingness to reexamine your own identity to regain your balance. Learning how to cope with depression in college is not so hard, though. The following five steps can help you come out of college with a more mature sense of self and the ability to handle life as a functioning adult.
In the best cases, depression simply removes any enjoyment we might get from being around other people; in the worst, it actively discourages us from socializing. Instead of holing up in your room, however, the best course of action is to go out and be around other people. This may seem counterintuitive. Isn't studying the most important part of college? Clearly, you need to strike a balance, but not only will human interaction make you feel less depressed, it will also teach you a set of behavioral skills you'll never learn in the classroom.
Stay In Touch
Just because you've left your home, your family, and your old friends doesn't mean you can never talk with any of them ever again. We live in an era of unprecedented connectivity. Use this to your advantage. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media can help you benefit from your old support group. Just be sure you don't ignore the opportunity to make news friends in your new environment.
Exercise makes us feel better. We become healthier, more confident individuals, and when done in a group, exercise is good for our social well-being, too. It also helps keep off the dreaded "freshman fifteen".
Go to Sleep
All that studying, socializing, and exercise is going to take a lot out of you. Be sure to get enough sleep—seven or eight hours at minimum. This can be hard when you're not used to the flexibility of a college class schedule, but studies have shown that much of the psychological distress students experience at college can be mitigated with a decent night's sleep.
Many schools have excellent counseling and student support services, but students don't seek the help the need out of fear of ridicule. Don't let your fear of what others think interfere with you getting the help you need. It may be easier if you realize that many of your peers are facing the same problems as you. A trip to the counselor may not be necessary, depending on the severity of your case, but when in doubt, it doesn't hurt to drop by.
There is perhaps no greater period of emotional growth than the time we spnd in college. Don't let depression dampen the fun of this unique period in your life. Understanding how to cope with depression in college is just another learning experience and will help you become a better-adjusted, well-rounded adult.