Going off to college is an overwhelming experience for most teenagers. It’s the first time they’ve lived on their own, so they have responsibilities they didn’t have before. It’s no surprise that some will develop problems because they don’t know how to cope. A recent study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that 80 percent of college students feel overwhelmed by their new responsibilities but only half seek help.
Another study from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health noted that anxiety and depression were the most common mental issues college students face. Eating disorders, suicide risk and addiction were other major concerns.
Let’s take a look at each one. If you're searching for substance abuse treatment centers in Raleigh NC for your child, call Legacy to learn more.
The NAMI report noted that 50 percent of college students deal with feelings of anxiety. Symptoms include feeling stressed out, being irritable and not being able to concentrate. There are several forms of anxiety disorders, including general anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder. A doctor can diagnose these, but not all experiences of anxiety need the same type of treatment. There are options a student can try before resorting to medication that include changes in diet and exercise.
Depression is the second leading mental health issue on college campuses. Nearly half of college students experience some form of it. It can be caused by stress over school performance, social issues, finances or disappointment in their experiences as a college student. Symptoms of depression include feeling down every day, loss of interest in school and other activities, fatigue, weight gain or loss and trouble concentrating.
Females feel the pressure to look a certain way, which can cause them to use extreme measures to control their weight. Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are common among young women. Statistics from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders note that over 90 percent of college women are on a diet and 25 percent of them use harmful methods to keep their weight down. If someone is suffering from an eating disorder, she can develop heart problems, kidney failure and loss of her periods.
There are more than 1,100 suicides on U.S. college campuses each year, according to the American Psychological Association. It’s the second leading cause of death for college students. People who struggle with depression or other mental disorders that are left untreated can lead to thoughts of suicide. If they begin using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate, it can make the problem worse. College students may not have positive coping mechanisms to deal with feelings of anxiety or depression, and may begin to have suicidal thoughts that can lead to fatal decisions.
Drinking and doing drugs seems to go hand-in-hand with the college experience, but it can lead to addiction problems. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol abuse reports that 80 percent of college students have consumed alcohol and 50 percent participated in binge drinking. While alcohol may be the most common substance abused by college students, performance enhancing drugs such as Ritalin are on the rise. There is a risk of overdose when the two are mixed, making it even more of a danger.
If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from one of these issues, call a counselor on campus or talk with a trusted adult immediately. There is help available.
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