College Students Are at a Higher Risk for Depression

Photo Illustration by Liz Monroy / el Don

Photo Illustration by Liz Monroy / el Don

Coping with the stress of early adult life leads to undiagnosed conditions

By Izabella Santana

Depression is a recurring disease among students, though one frequently overlooked. Students suffer in silence. With each added responsibility on a student’s shoulders, so increases the likelihood of depression.

Juggling jobs, worrying over college tuition and facing coursework forces students to cope with the reality of being an adult.

More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for mental health conditions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness of mental health issues.

“Students have a unique set of pressures to deal with,” Santa Ana College psychology professor Fernando Ortiz said.

“A lot of students have jobs, other obligations, and are carrying full loads. With the stress of all that, it brings about a lot of self reflection by having to live up to the expectations,” he added.

In recent years, social media has also been a factor.

In 2011, a study was conducted by a group of professors from University of Wisconsin with a control group of 200 female college students’ Facebook profiles.

For a year, the professors observed the status updates and determined if the subjects showed any sign of habits that are linked to depression.

As a result, 25 percent of the profiles fell into the criteria and 2.5 percent displayed major depression episodes.

“When we look at our friends on Facebook, we are seeing our ideal self in people who are posting their pictures and highlights of their life,” Ortiz said.

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“It presents a very artificial life at the other end, so that the comparison contributes to self-doubt and ‘my life isn’t as good as everyone else’s’. ”

Although at times social media connects to depression, the University of Florida created an online therapy assistance for their students.

Therapy Assisted Online is a seven-week program that gives students videos and activities to do each week.

In 2013, the Florida progam found that depression and anxiety was reduced among participants.

“If you know things aren’t working out in life, you should actively be reaching out looking for coping mechanisms to have an opportunity to decompress from the day,” SAC counselor Sherri Blake said.

About 73 percent of college students have experienced mental crises on campus, but roughly 34.2 percent did not report the crises.

It may not be comfortable for students to talk to a counselor or therapist, so many of them do not expose their symptoms, according to NAMI.

Glum / Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and little to no exercise makes students more likely to experience depression. / Sharon Noguchi / TNS

Glum / Lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and little to no exercise makes students more likely to experience depression. / Sharon Noguchi / TNS

Because of a lack of sleep, poor eating habits and little to no exercise, students are more likely to encounter a bout of depression.

“Santa Ana College should offer free baking classes to relieve stress or hand out free cupcakes during midterm and finals week,” said Isabel Ortiz, Middle College High School student.

Although there is a lack of support groups on SAC’s campus, Blake suggested holding a service fair to show students that there are other ways of getting help.

“Just like the club rush, we should have a resource rush to show students the kind of resources that are available,” Blake said.