Mental Health of College Students

By Mallory Johnson

Staff writer

College is the stepping stone before you enter the workforce. Many college students struggle with stress and anxiety because they become overwhelmed with work. Many students have to balance their time between class, work, family, and other matters. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness one in four students have a diagnosable illness, 40% do not seek help, 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, and 50% have been so anxious they struggled in school. Depression is a common, but serious illness that leaves the person feeling despondent and helpless. Depression is the number one reason students drop out of school. Depressive illnesses are disorders of the brain and are likely caused by a combination of genetics, biological, psychological and environmental factors. Symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness or unhappiness, change in appetite or weight, loss of interest in activities or social gatherings, fatigue, loss in energy, sleeplessness, trouble concentrating, and indecisiveness.

Many college students also experience some kind of anxiety. A person can experience a generalized anxiety disorder that is a constant, severe anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities, a panic disorder which is a frequent sudden attacks of terror, panic and constant fearfulness, or a social anxiety when everyday interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness and embarrassment. Anxiety disorders occur when anxiety interfere with daily life, halting your ability to function, and causing and immense amount of stress and fearful feelings. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. They affect 40 million adults over the age of 18, yet only one-third seek and receive treatment. Common symptoms for anxiety disorders are feelings, of stress and apprehension, irritability, sweating and dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, irregular heartbeat, and frequent upset stomach or diarrhea.

Millions of college students develop eating disorders during their college years, and a vast majority do not seek help or don’t realize the extent of their issues. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), people ages 12-25 represent 95% of those with eating disorders, anorexia is the third most common chronic illness in adolescents, 91% of college women attempt to control their weight through dieting, and 25% of college women binge and purge to manage their weight.  Common eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa which is an unhealthy fixation on thinness, distorted body image and fears of gaining weight, Bulimia Nervosa which is a binge eating disorder, involving recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food, followed by behavior that compensates for binging, like purging, fasting or over-exercising, and Binge Eating Disorder which is when a person has constant cravings that occur any time of day and that then result in binge eating.

The signs and symptoms of eating disorders vary by person and condition, but several red flags are dehydration, excessive exercise, fear of eating in public, and constantly making excuses for eating habits. Colleges place entirely too much pressure on students. This is a main contributor to the mental derailment that we experience as young people during college life. It is important to take mental health seriously and to seek help.

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