September 25, 2019
Top 5 mental health issues college students face
Addiction Dual Diagnosis Mental Health
For most people, college is their first foray into the “real world.” The sudden influx in responsibilities and social pressures can be overwhelming, leading to anxiety, depression, and substance abuse issues, to cope. These problems if left untreated can lead to multiple complications like compromised academic performance, isolation, and in extreme circumstances, suicide ideation and attempt.
If you suspect that someone you know is suffering from any of the following conditions, do not be afraid of talking to them. At least try to inform them about the number of support systems for mental health issues that are currently available in their college and locality. Early intervention is the key to preventing the development of mental health and substance abuse issues. Being able to identify their signs early on and seeking timely help also ensures that they are not aggravated and are successfully managed. Listed below are the top 5 mental health and substance use issues faced by college students.
- Anxiety: The most common disorder in the U.S., anxiety affects 40 million adults. Anxiety is an umbrella term that can be used to describe disorders like general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), social phobia, and specific phobias. However, simply experiencing anxiety does not necessarily mean you have a disorder; it must be adversely affecting one’s life in some way and be persistent for at least two years for it to be classified as a disorder. Common symptoms for anxiety disorders may include feelings of stress, irritability, difficulty concentrating, fearfulness, muscle pain/tension, sweating, and dizziness. There are many remedies for anxiety that can be tried before resorting to treatment, including diet changes, regular physical activity, practicing yoga and mindfulness, etc.
- Depression: Increasingly more and more college students are being diagnosed with depression. The causes of depression are often rooted in legitimate fears that college students face such as performing academically and socially, financial issues, peer pressure, stress about getting a job, getting a partner, etc. Students are commonly told that their college experience will be the most exciting time of their life; while this proves to be true for many, the disparity between the expectations and reality can easily set the stage for disappointment and depression. Depressive symptoms include feelings of sadness or unhappiness, fluctuations in appetite and weight, fatigue, loss of interest in activities and, difficulty in focusing. Depression is one of the most common causes of death in the U.S., projected to be second only to heart disease by 2020. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) approximately 6 million adults had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. This figure was higher than the numbers recorded between 2009 and 2016. If left untreated, depression can lead to substance abuse and suicidal ideation.
- Suicide: College is a time when students may experience a new level of self-doubt, frustration, and rejection. For some, unhealthy coping methods (i.e., drugs and alcohol) can exacerbate their mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, leading to suicidal ideation; for others, a genetic predisposition and a lack of coping resources might exacerbate the risk of committing suicide. When combined with the residual “everything really matters” mindset from adolescence and high school, the pressure can lead people to make impulsive and fatal decisions. Common signs include depression, changes in mood and behavior, feelings of hopelessness, drop in academic performance, and antisocial behavior. According to data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), 47,173 suicides were reported in the U.S. in 2017. Unfortunately, suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst individuals aged between 10 to 34.
- Eating Disorders: Due much in part to the pressures to meet certain physical requirements that college students are subjected to, eating disorders are very common amongst young people, especially women. Common signs include distorted perceptions of body image, excessive exercise, irregular heartbeat, dehydration, fear of eating in public as well as constant excuses for not eating. The most prevalent eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder (BED), leading to kidney failure, stunted growth, heart problems, loss of menstruation cycle, and reproductive system failures in women. As per the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, every 62 minutes, an American dies because of an eating disorder. Moreover, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate among all mental disorders.
- Addiction: It is probably safe to say that partying and alcohol consumption is an inseparable component of higher education. Excessive drinking does not only lead to academic problems, but a multitude of mental health issues in addition to the formation of other addictions. With the increase in the use of stimulant study aids such as Ritalin, students are given even more opportunities to develop an addiction, not to mention the ones for overdose when mixed with alcohol. With the pressures of college coupled with rampant substance abuse and partying that is unfortunately an entrenched tradition at this point, young adults face an arduous journey psychologically. According to the statistics presented by the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 55 percent Americans aged between 18 to 25 reported using alcohol in the past month.
Road to recovery
Students who feel overwhelmed, sad, anxious, depressed, suicidal, or lonely may show advanced symptoms, if they are not provided with appropriate support on a timely basis. It is thus important that either these students reach out themselves or people close to them arrange intervention and treatment for them.
If you or a loved one is battling mental health disorders or an addiction and is looking for a licensed mental health treatment center, get in touch with Invictus Health Group. Call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member of our team. Recognizing that mental health and substance abuse issues often co-occur and are interconnected with one another, we provide resources that treat each case individually and holistically to ensure that all the underlying issues are addressed. You can also chat online to a representative for more information on mental health services.