Depression and Anxiety
Many university students experience some difficulty adjusting to college life. They may initially feel homesick, anxious and fearful, and may notice changes in their eating and sleeping patterns. However, sometimes uncomfortable feelings and/or potentially harmful changes in behavior may persist for an extended period of time or become so severe as to interfere with a student's functioning in his or her daily life. A student may stop attending class, continuously withdraw from social situations, rely on drugs and alcohol, etc. This may indicate the presence of a mental disorder. College students experience a wide variety of psychological disturbances - most common among them are depression and anxiety.
Symptoms of depression include:
- depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day (e.g., feeling sad or empty)
- increased irritability
- diminished interest or pleasure in activities that previously seemed enjoyable
- significant weight loss or weight gain, or decreased or increased appetite
- insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)
- observable restlessness or slowing down in movement
- fatigue, loss of energy
- feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide, or developing a suicide plan or attempting the act
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- restlessness or feeling on edge
- being easily fatigued
- difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- muscle tension
- sleep disturbance
Note that anxiety can be specific to a particular situation (e.g., public speaking, being in the presence of a feared object, animal, etc.), or can be more general in nature. It can also be the result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event.
Other relatively common disorders experienced by college students are eating disorders, substance-related disorders, and adjustment disorders. However, students will likely encounter a broad spectrum of challenges over their college careers - from developing basic time-management strategies to learning how to cope with interpersonal conflict. Thus, it is important for students to know that there are resources available to them should they need to reach out for assistance. These include Hofstra's Student Counseling Services, the Dean of Students Office, Freshman Advancement, and each student's assigned advisor.