Living in a dorm with roommates and others your age is often portrayed as unlimited fun and partying. In reality college life is full of deadlines, drama, and an atmosphere that is easy to get caught up in. In recent years reports have been addressing the issue of college students suffering from depression. It is important to remember that each individual’s experiences, lifestyle, and choices can lead to depression. Some people are more prone to depression and other conditions that develop or are amplified by college life. In this article I will explain some of the common causes of depression in college students as well as ways to avoid a negative atmosphere.
Diet– The most common thing a college student can do wrong is to eat poorly. Drinking multiple energy drinks or soda may cause crashing and mood variations and compiled with some other poor choices may leave one feeling down. Eating fast food or pizza or microwavable meals that are very fattening and unhealthy will take its toll on your body in the long run. Skipping breakfast is common but we all have heard it is the most important meal of the day. Doctors are not lying when they say having a good breakfast jump starts your metabolism and helps students focus in those early morning classes.
Exercise– Exercise is important as well. A lot of students will profess they can’t get to the gym due to school and possibly a job. However, you really don’t need more than 20-30 minutes of light aerobic exercise every other day to start noticing a difference in how you feel. If you keep at it long enough you may even notice your body looking even better as well! Just getting those natural endorphins released in your brain will help you become less prone to depression as your body experiences a natural high. You can start slow and work your way up and many people realize they enjoy the feeling they get from exercising even though initially it will be tough. Starting anything is always more of a challenge then when you are halfway through.
Sleep– Pulling ‘all-nighters’ is a standard college affair. Limiting the amount of times you do this by avoiding procrastinating is very important. There is a certain learned maturity that is required to just say no to friends who are going out when you have work that needs to be done. Excessive partying will take up the time in which you should be sleeping. And when you couple not sleeping, eating poorly, and living a stationary life you can become easily depressed. Also, your sleeping schedule can be thrown off causing you to wake up late which leads to missing classes.
Drugs and Alcohol– Part of any college student’s life will be influenced by drugs and alcohol. It is unavoidable in most circles and will be a constant temptation. Some people have the opportunity to party all weekend and do so without their schoolwork suffering but in most cases you have to balance your social life very carefully if you want to do well in class. Excessive use of drugs like marijuana can lead to laziness when it comes to schoolwork, whereas alcohol only stays in your system for 48 hours. The biggest part of dealing with drugs and alcohol is learning to limit oneself in an environment filled with pleasure. Too much of anything is bad and messing with your brains chemistry can lead to unexpected results such as depression.
I have listed from my experiences and observations the most common reasons or situations that can lead to depression in a college student. Of course, every case is different but it is rare that someone who is eating right, exercising, sleeping well, and not partying excessively will develop long term depression. In the critical stage of life that college students are in maintaining your body and mind is of the utmost importance. Don’t let yourself fall victim to depression and remember you can always seek help when and if you need it.