Going to college is a major life milestone filled with exciting experiences like making new friends, learning more about yourself, and enjoying the freedom that comes with independence. However, college can also be a challenging time for young adults. In fact, a recent nationwide survey of college students found that half of them screened positive for depression or anxiety.

While there are biological factors like genetics that play into the likelihood of developing depression, we’re going to focus on the specific effect college has on a young adult’s mental health. Join us as we take a deep dive into the connection between depression and college students by looking at the potential causes.

What Triggers Depression in College Students?

Academic Pressure

When you’re in college, there’s an underlying pressure to get good grades. Not only does this pressure stem from comparing yourself to other students, but your grades can have an impact on your job prospects once you graduate. Once you realize this, the stress associated with grades, assignment deadlines, and any uncertainty about the future begin to stack up. All these factors lead to one of the biggest triggers for depression for college students: fear they won’t be able to successfully transition into the adult world.

After all, it’s normal for a college student to assume having trouble with the academic pressure of college means they’re destined to have trouble in their professional career. These types of negative thoughts can make it difficult for young adults to shake this mindset.

The Feeling of Being Isolated

College students go from being at home with established connections to a brand-new environment. This transition can make it difficult for them to manage stress, since their normal support system is farther away. Oftentimes, this realization can lead to college students feeling isolated. Plus, certain aspects of college make it more likely for someone with depression to feel isolated. For example, large class sizes often make it difficult for an individual student to connect with their professor.

Part of what makes feeling isolated so challenging is the depression that often accompanies this can cause students to shut themselves out from the world even further. Some college students even get caught up in a cycle of isolation and spend most of their free time in bed or their dorm room since they can’t find another way to cope.

Changes in Lifestyle

In high school, you might remember an established schedule. You would wake up, go to school, take part in extracurriculars, have dinner with your family before going to bed, and then getting up and doing it all over again. In college, that kind of routine is much more difficult to maintain. Since you’re on your own, it can be hard to find the motivation to get enough sleep, manage a healthy diet, and find time to exercise. College life is filled with attending late-night parties, cramming for exams, and bingeing on dining hall food, all while being on a budget.

These factors of college life often make it difficult for even the most dedicated students to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Why is a healthy lifestyle important? Multiple studies have shown that a decline in activity level and poor sleep quality increase the risk for experiencing depression symptoms.

The good news is that if you or a loved one is struggling with depression in college, expert treatment is available to help you overcome it.

Discover Personalized Mental Health Treatment near You

At Fountain Hills Recovery, we know that one of the most frustrating parts of having depression is that there’s no immediate cure. Recovery from a mental health condition is a process, but you don’t have to go through it alone. While dealing with the transition to college life can be challenging, Fountain Hills Recovery offers expert mental health treatment in Arizona.

We can help you break through feelings of isolation and hopelessness to renew your sense of purpose in your daily life. If you’re struggling with depression, Fountain Hills Recovery is a safe and peaceful environment where you can heal. Contact our admissions team today to get started on the path to recovery.