Why are anxiety and depression in college students so high? (2023)

Why are anxiety and depression in college students so high? (1)Share on Pinterest

Stress, anxiety and depression are common among college students.

Students face many new challenges.

Often for the first time, they live far away from their families and communities. Suddenly they are introduced to new environments, social situations and a heavy academic workload.

Often these new challenges can feel overwhelming and lead to depression or anxiety. Sometimes this extra pressure can aggravate a previously existing condition or trigger its onset.

Many college students face mental health issues, with two of the most common being anxiety and depression.

Symptoms are often short-lived and can be directly linked to the challenges of being a freshman, such as feelings of loneliness. Sometimes it can take a semester or two for students to make friends. This transition period can temporarily affect the mental health of many studentsStudy 2012found that social support is one of the most important factors in promoting well-being among university students.

As students begin to feel a sense of belonging in the school, many find that their anxiety and depression symptoms also decrease. However, other students may feel that their symptoms are the beginning of a mental disorder.

(Video) Why is anxiety on the rise among college students?

In fact, many mental disorders first appear in early adulthood. A 2014 study found that by the age of 2575%of those who will develop a mental health disorder have already had their first onset.

The stress that accompanies anxiety and depression can affect many aspects of a student's life.

Survey 2021found that untreated mental health was associated with alcohol and drug abuse, relationship instability,lower self esteemand suicidal thoughts.

If you have suicidal thoughts, help is available

These resources give you instant access to free support:

  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.call tolifelineat 988 for English or Spanish, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • The crisis text line.Send HOME tocrisis text lineem 741741.
  • The Trevor Project.LGBTQIA+ and under 25? Call 866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678 oronline chat24/7.
  • Veteran Crisis Line.Call 988 and press 1, SMS 838255 oronline chat24/7.
  • Hotline for the deaf.Call 321-800-3323, text “HAND” to 839863, or visit thewebsite.
  • friends all over the world.BeInternational network of crisis helplinescan help you find a local hotline.

How common is anxiety among students?

anxiety disordersare the most common mental disorders that affect those around us11,9%by college students. Many of these disorders present their first symptoms in adolescence or early adulthood.

Some of the most common anxiety disorders are:

(Video) College Student Opens Up About Depression And Anxiety

  • social anxiety
  • Panic syndrome
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

While social anxiety usually begins in childhood or adolescence (usually around the age of 7 to 14), other anxiety disorders may first appear or be triggered during the stressful college years.

But even among college students who have not been diagnosed with a specific anxiety disorder, many are prone to high levels of college anxiety.

ASurvey 2018found that 63% of college students in the United States reported having experienced "overwhelming anxiety" in the past year. About 23% said they had been diagnosed or treated by a psychologist in the past year.

Anxiety has increased among students in recent years. A smallStudies 2020found that 71% of college students experience increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How common is depression in college students?

Depression occurs roughly7-9%by college students, but it can start much earlier in life. The truth is,almost halfof all cases of depression first appear by the age of 18.

Suicide is also a big problem, being the third leading cause of death among young adults, according to theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A largeSurvey 2015found that of 8,155 high school students, 6.7% had had suicidal thoughts, 1.6% had a suicide plan, and 0.5% had attempted suicide in the previous year.

Are mental health problems increasing among students?

Mental health is a growing concern on college campuses across the United States. after aStudy 2018, more than 95% of university counseling leaders say the management of student mental health is a growing concern.

This study also showed that mental health problems among college students have increased significantly over the past few decades. The number of first-year students with a mental illness has also increased.

While it's not entirely clear what's causing this trend, one isStudy 2018suggests that adolescents who spent more time with electronic devices (social media, smartphones and games) and less time spent on non-electronics activities reduced psychological well-being.

What are common symptoms of anxiety and depression?

(Video) Depression: A Student's Perspective

Anxiety symptoms vary from person to person but can include the following symptoms:

  • bad concentration
  • Feelings of restlessness or nervousness
  • worry or nervousness
  • muscle tension
  • Feelingtiredor weak
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling out of control
  • sense of impending doom
  • fast heart rate
  • Sweat
  • shake or shake
  • abdominal pain or headache
  • rapid breathing

Symptoms of depression can be:

  • want lasting humor
  • fatigue
  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, or pessimism
  • irritability
  • emotional numbness
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • poor concentration and memory
  • move or speak more slowly
  • feel uneasy
  • insomniaoroversleep
  • appetite or weight changes
  • Pain without a clear cause
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempted suicide

Several in the last two decadesstudiesconducted worldwide (in both developed and developing countries) have shown that anxiety, depression and stress are high among college students.

From social to academic stressors, not only do college students face many challenges, but many mental health disorders begin during this time.

AStudies 2021suggests that these risk factors fall into six distinct categories:

  • psychological
  • academic
  • biological
  • lifestyle
  • social
  • financially

Within these categories, the more common risk factors include:

  • underlying mental health condition
  • substance use
  • academic pressure
  • low self-esteem or self-confidence
  • insufficient sleep
  • Mangel ansocial care
  • financial problems
  • on oneminority
  • internet addiction

Most college-related psychological distress occurs in the freshman year. The right treatment can make all the difference for students, both academic success and overall well-being. However, many students are currently not receiving the support they need.

A major online survey from 2011 found just that36%of students with mental health problems were treated in the previous year.

Reasons not to seek help include:

  • fear ofStigma
  • do not find the treatment essential or urgent
  • Zeitmangel
  • denial of symptoms
  • lack of adequate treatment options
  • financial struggles

In addition to seeing a mental health professional, there are several things students can do to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression:

  • Try not to avoid your stressors. If you are dealing with social anxiety orfear test, try to deal with the things that scare you the most. Maybe it's about going to a party or starting your next big quest. Getting started is often the hardest part, but once you get started it usually gets easier and you gain confidence.
  • practice self-care. Never underestimate the power ofTo eat healthy food,A practice, and get enough sleep. Whenever possible, try to spend time outside with friends and exerciseI am hygiene. Limiting or avoiding alcohol or other substances can also help.
  • search for resources. Check if there are mental health services or mental health support groups on your campus. OOnline Education Centerprovides a large list of resources for college students seeking mental health support. You can also look for one outsideMental Health Advisor.
(Video) Depression in College | Mental Health + Things That Help

If you're a college student living with anxiety, depression, or both, don't hesitate to ask for help. Most colleges have mental health counselors who can provide support.

The right diagnosis and treatment can significantly increase your well-being and help you to cope better with the stressful everyday life of your studies. Remember, college can mean gaining independence, but you are not alone.

(Video) How Can We Solve the College Student Mental Health Crisis? | Dr. Tim Bono | TEDxWUSTL


Why has anxiety increased in college students? ›

The rising cost of education places additional stress on students and their families. Youth are being pushed to their limits as early as elementary school. As a result, their mental health and well-being are suffering.

What causes depression and anxiety in college students? ›

A lack of sleep, poor eating habits, and not enough exercise are a recipe for depression among college students. The stress that comes with academia — including financial worries, pressure to get a good job after school, and failed relationships — is enough to force some students to leave college or worse.

Why is mental health worse in college students? ›

Entering college can trigger mental health disorders

Even if someone doesn't develop a formal disorder, they might still struggle. It's difficult to navigate the stress of the transition to college. An overwhelming workload, unfamiliar environment, and other stressors can lead to a mental health crisis.

What is the leading cause of depression in students? ›

Many factors increase the risk of developing or triggering teen depression, including: Having issues that negatively impact self-esteem, such as obesity, peer problems, long-term bullying or academic problems. Having been the victim or witness of violence, such as physical or sexual abuse.

What is the main cause of anxiety in students? ›

Academic workload and lack of engagement in social activities, especially during exam time, are risk factors of stress and anxiety. A lack of balance between academic and social life causes formation of anxiety and depression among students in American universities.

What is the most common anxiety disorder in college students? ›

College students are in a high-risk age group for panic disorder, as it most frequently is diagnosed during young adulthood. GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER (GAD): characterized by excessive worry or fear about everyday life events that is difficult to control.

What college has the highest depression rate? ›

This article states several important statistics on college students' mental health in America. Most notably, this article finds that Penn has the most depressed student body in United States, topping a list of 50 other schools in the country.

How do I overcome college anxiety? ›

5 Coping Strategies for Stress & Anxiety in College Students
  1. Keep a normal routine.
  2. Watch nutrition and diet.
  3. Take a break.
  4. Stay connected with others.
  5. Consider speaking with a mental health professional.

What is the #1 mental health issue impacting college students? ›

Depression and anxiety are common mental health conditions among students. Resources are available to help students improve their mental health.

Why don t college students seek mental help? ›

Student's don't seek help when they need it.

Students overestimate their understanding and ability. Students do not recognize early enough that they need help. Students may perceive you as unapproachable. Students don't know that resources are available.

Do 64% of students drop out of college because of mental health problems? ›

In a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a strong correlation between the number of students who drop out of college and depression was discovered. Around two-thirds (64%) of college students in the US quit their studies because of mental disorders.

What majors have the highest depression rate? ›

What majors have the highest depression rates? What major has the highest depression rate? Nursing home/child-care workers. Personal-care providers top the list, with nearly 11% of people in this field reporting a bout of major depression.

Why is college lonely? ›

Students feel alone at various points throughout college often triggered by the unfamiliarity of a new routine, uncertainty about their education or major, isolation from family and friends, and lack of friendships and connections if they are new to college.

Why are college students stressed? ›

College students commonly experience stress because of increased responsibilities, a lack of good time management, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and not taking enough breaks for self-care. Transitioning to college can be a source of stress for most first-year students.

What are the three main causes of anxiety? ›

What causes anxiety?
  • past or childhood experiences.
  • your current life situation.
  • physical and mental health problems.
  • drugs and medication.

What affects students mental health the most? ›

Stress, life events, past experiences and genet- ics all play a part in determining our mental health. Student life exposes in- dividuals to risk factors affecting mental health including financial worries, periods of transition, substance use, parental pressure, culture shock and disconnection from previous supports.

What are the two most common mental illnesses among college students? ›

Mental health problems are prevalent among college students with substance use, anxiety, and depression being the most common.

What does anxiety look like in college students? ›

Many types of anxiety disorders can afflict college students. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, unease, a sense of impending danger or doom, sweating and trembling, inability to maintain focus, uncontrollable worry, and insomnia.

Is being depressed in college normal? ›

College students are particularly susceptible to depression. With the immense pressure to balance academics, social life, extracurriculars, and mental well-being it can all become too much to handle. This also may be the first time that they're living away from home and the support system that they're used to.

Does mental health get worse in college? ›

Researchers discovered that the mental health of college students has been on a steady decline for all eight years of data. There was a 135-percent increase in depression and 110-percent increase in anxiety from 2013 to 2021.

What percent of Harvard students are depressed? ›

Between 2014 and 2018, the percentage of Harvard undergraduates reporting that they have or think they may have depression increased from 22% to 31%, and the percentage reporting that they have or think they may have an anxiety disorder increased from 19% to 30%.

Is anxiety a disability in college? ›

Does anxiety count as a disability in college? Yes. People with anxiety disorders are protected under the ADA. Anxiety is the most common psychiatric disability in U.S. adults.

How long does college anxiety last? ›

A recent study demonstrated that psychological distress among college students — that is, their levels of anxiety, depression, and stress — rises steadily during the first semester of college and remains elevated throughout the second semester.

What is the best anxiety medication for college students? ›

Medication for College Anxiety

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs are a popular choice, because they're generally well tolerated and considered more effective than other options.

What is the biggest problem college students face? ›

Common Issues for College Students.
  • Social anxiety, general anxiety, test anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Family expectations or problems.
  • Depression, lack of energy or motivation, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, low self-esteem, homesickness, loneliness.

What are the top 3 diagnosis on college campuses? ›

Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent). On average, 24.5 percent of clients were taking psychotropic medications.

What percent of college students take antidepressants? ›

24.5% of college students are taking some form of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and mood stabilizers, such as Prozac, Zoloft or Lamotrigine. 95% of college counselors report that mental health concern is growing on their campus.

Why do college students feel hopeless? ›

"However, some of the contributing factors include situations college students may face, such as increased stress and anxiety, alcohol and drug use, sleep deprivation, and social difficulties like isolation or challenges with roommates or peers."

Is mental health a reason to drop out of college? ›

While 14% say mental health issues were the primary reason they left college, it was also a contributing factor to why nearly a third of students didn't finish their degrees, according to Sallie Mae's How America Completes College 2022 released Tuesday.

Is anxiety a serious problem among college students? ›

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders, affecting about 11.9% of college students. Many of these disorders show their first symptoms during adolescence or early adulthood. Some of the most common anxiety disorders include: social anxiety.

How many people think college is a waste of time? ›

Twenty-nine percent of college-age Americans say college is both a waste of money, and that a college education isn't necessary to get a good job.

What are the top reasons students drop out of college? ›

Seventeen percent of US college students don't plan to return in the autumn, a survey shows. The strong jobs market and rising costs are some of the reasons given for dropping out of college. Some students say they can't afford tuition or regular living expenses, while others want to start a business.

Which student is most at risk for dropping out of college? ›

Postsecondary students from households with incomes in the lowest quarter are 79.3% more likely to dropout than students from the highest quarter-income households. Most college dropouts are between the ages of 35 and 64 years old. 37.1% of individuals aged 25 to 44 years have bachelor's degrees.

How has anxiety in students increased over the years? ›

Even before the pandemic, anxiety and depression were becoming more common among children and adolescents, increasing 27 percent and 24 percent respectively from 2016 to 2019. By 2020, 5.6 million kids (9.2%) had been diagnosed with anxiety problems and 2.4 million (4.0%) had been diagnosed with depression.

Are students more anxious now? ›

Variants Fuel Decline in Student Mental Health. New survey finds nearly nine in 10 students believe there is a mental health crisis on college campuses. Seventy percent say they are experiencing pandemic-related distress or anxiety.

Has stress increased for college students? ›

45% of American college students claimed to undergo “more than average stress,” while 33% of students reported “average stress” and 12.7% saying it is “tremendous stress.” Students who reported “no stress” or “less than average stress” combined for 9% total.

Why is anxiety on the rise? ›

But the World Health Organization reported earlier this year that anxiety and depression spiked by 25% in the pandemic's first year, identifying loneliness, fear of infection, financial stressors and grief over what we'd lost among the chief culprits.

Why is mental health getting worse over time? ›

Modern, Western lifestyles undermine mental health. Unhealthy diets, lack of physical exercise, loneliness, family break up, childhood neglect and trauma, the pressure of competition in schools and the workplace — the list goes on.

Why are students at university so stressed? ›

University can be a stressful experience, as well as being fun and exciting. You may feel stressed about starting university, exams, coursework deadlines, living with people you do not get on with, or thinking about the future. Stress is a natural feeling, designed to help you cope in challenging situations.

How do college students cope with anxiety? ›

Anxiety is common among college students, but that doesn't mean you have to take it lying down. Getting involved in school activities, making new friends, and leaning on your loved ones can help. You can also reach out to a campus counselor or local therapist who can suggest coping strategies or treatment.

Why students are currently overwhelmed? ›

Factors such as homework, social life, perceived parental pressure, university applications, and never-ending workloads all generate stress. Although research shows that a moderate amount of stress can be beneficial and act as a motivator for students to do well, too much stress can impact their overall well-being.

What are the 5 most stressors for college students? ›

What Causes Stress Among College Students?
  • Living away from home/living among strangers. ...
  • Academic demands and test anxiety. ...
  • Finances. ...
  • Post graduation plans. ...
  • Roommate negotiations and mediation. ...
  • Relationships (family and romantic)

What do college students worry about the most? ›

Overall, 88 percent of college students reported their school life to be stressful. Education and medical majors reported the highest levels of stress, though, followed by psychology, arts, and the sciences. The biggest stressor for students was exams (89 percent). Financial issues weren't too far behind, though.


1. College Anxiety and Depression - CollegeisStressful.com
(Dr. Cullen Hardy)
2. Breakdowns On Campus: Students On The Edge
(BBC Three)
3. Why you should take a break: Prioritizing mental health in schools | Hailey Hardcastle | TEDxSalem
(TEDx Talks)
4. Depression Among College Students
5. How the pandemic is impacting college students' mental health
(PBS NewsHour)
6. Shedding Light on Student Depression | Jack Park | TEDxPenn
(TEDx Talks)


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