Leaving home to attend college or university can be stressful. Living in an unfamiliar place, making new friends and rising to the challenges put on you at your new school can leave you feeling pretty overwhelmed. It's normal to experience some amount of stress, but too much stress is unhealthy and can affect your academic and social life at school.
Are You Stressed or Depressed?
While most college and university students experience stress, being overwhelmed by stress to the point where you can't focus is never a good thing. In some cases, students confuse depression with feeling stressed, and don't seek help for what is a treatable condition. Know the difference between stress and depression and get the support you need:
- Trouble focusing, remembering and functioning
- Change in eating and sleeping patterns
- Feeling overwhelmed, irritable or even angry
- Anxiousness or nervousness
- Feeling like you can't overcome the challenges of school, etc.
Learning to Manage Stress
- Make an effort to do something you find relaxing, every day.
- Write down what it is that's making you feel stressed and come up with ways to overcome the stress.
- Get at least 7 hours of sleep, eat well and exercise.
- Talk to a friend, parent, teacher or someone you trust about how you're feeling.
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, like you can't overcome your problems
- Not wanting to see or talk to your friends or family members
- Lacking energy or the motivation to get things done
- Trouble focusing, remembering, functioning and/or making decisions
- Feeling irritated, angry and/or guilty
- Eating and/or sleeping more or less than typical
- Suicidal thoughts
Getting Help for Depression
Whether you confide in a friend or parent first, or you go straight to your campus health centre or family doctor, admitting that there's something wrong is the first step toward getting better. Most colleges and universities will offer some amount of mental health support and can refer you to someone for a longer-term treatment solution. Depression is treatable, get help today!
Attending College or University with a Mental Health Disorder
With the availability of a wide variety of support services, many people with mental health disorders successfully complete college and university. If you're wondering how you will manage your mental health issue while working toward your diploma or degree, create a plan for how you will take care of your mental health while completing your education and enjoying everything that student life has to offer.
- Find out if your school offers any mental health services and, if not, ask for a referral to a local service provider.
- If you're moving away from home, decide whether you will continue to work with your existing doctor or service provider (via the phone, etc.), or whether you will find a new provider. Ask your school for referrals and meet with a few providers to find one that you feel comfortable with.
- Find out about the other services your school offers that could be helpful to you. Are there support services that can help you with your school work? Is there a nutritionist on campus, or does your school have a gym or offer fitness classes? Are there any clubs or other social groups or activities you can get involved with?
- Develop a network of support on campus, whether you talk to your roommate, a friend, or a school counsellor, and be sure to stay in touch with whomever it is that you usually confide in, back at home.