This month we celebrate Mental Health Month! Mental health problems impact about 1 in 5 Americans, and on college campuses those numbers are even higher. The good news is that there is help available for many mental health problems, and students with mental health problems are able to succeed in school and in their lives after college. Mental Health Month is all about raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health problems. This month, the blog will focus on raising awareness about common problems students experience and examining the stigma associated with mental health.
One of the most common mental health conditions that college students report is depression. Approximately 27% of students nationwide say that they are living with depression. Depression is a mood disorder that is more than just having a bad mood every once and a while. There are many symptoms that students experience differently.
Women and men may also experience depression differently. The rates of depression are typically higher among women compared to men. Women who experience depression typically endorse the symptoms of sadness, worthlessness, and guilt. On the other hand, men are more likely to report feeling very tired, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and loss of interest in previously-enjoyed activities. Some research has found the cultural pressure to act “manly” and not show self-doubt or sadness may account for this difference. The sadness that some men feel may come out as anger and irritability instead.
Here are some of the common signs that you may notice in yourself or a friend:
- Avoiding regular hobbies, and instead gravitating towards activities that require little effort, like TV, video games, or surfing the web
- Sleep changes or difficulties – this can include not being able to fall asleep, waking up many times during the night, waking up early, or sleeping during the day
- Eating changes – some people eat more, and others eat less
- Anger or irritability
- Expressing negative thoughts
- Suicidal thoughts
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Aches and pains that won’t seem to go away
Knowing the signs of depression may help you know whether you or someone you care about may be struggling. If you are worried about someone, try reaching out to them to offer support. You may also consider making an appointment with the counseling center.