A 2010 survey of college counseling centers shows that there is an increase in college students with severe psychological problems, especially anxiety and depression. This information was obtained from an annual report by the Association for University and Counseling Center Directors. This trend is not surprising, considering that college students experience a number of life stressors and internal struggles, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
In addition to experiencing anxiety and depression, many college students feel the burden of guilt and shame for having these mental health problems. Some students feel that they should be happy because they have many advantages, such as friends, family support, and an education. These student often struggle to understand why they develop depression, and may blame themselves. Students who feel guilt or shame often withdraw from friends and family so that others will not discover their depression or anxiety. They may also work hard to present a cheerful attitude around others. This behavior is exhausting, and often increases symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Students often come to college with high expectations for their academic success, friendships, and social life. Many students have heard that college will be the “best years of your life.” When reality does not match up with expectations, students can develop anxiety or depression.
College is a time of great change. Moving away from one’s family, choosing a major and career path, leaving old friends behind, making new friends, living with roommates, and coping with adult responsibilities are just a few of the major changes that college students face. Difficulty coping with these changes can result in anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder. Additionally, students begin to develop their sense of identity and independence around age 18. Struggles with this can also intensify anxiety and depression.
College counseling centers are a great resource for students struggling with anxiety, depression, difficulties with adjustment, or other concerns. Counseling centers offer individual therapy for students as well as group therapy. Because counseling centers are struggling to keep up with the growing needs of students, many centers also refer students to psychologists off campus.