When preparing for college, many teens and young adults are consumed with important questions around the major transition ahead, such as concerns over what course of study to select, how their social landscape will change, and all the other matters associated with becoming an independent member of society.
However, one extremely important aspect of life at university is often overlooked, and that is mental health.
Many mood and anxiety disorders are most likely to start showing themselves around this time, between the ages of 18 and 25. This means that as many people are adjusting to college life, they also start experiencing instances of anxiety or depression for the first time.
The person may not recognise these symptoms for what they are, and this lack of understanding can delay them seeking treatment or in reaching out for much-needed help. In the meantime, studies and quality of life may begin to suffer.
No one really knows why this stage of life leaves us more vulnerable to mental illness, but one thing that is agreed upon is that young adulthood can be a particularly challenging time. It can be difficult to leave one’s parents and to live independently, and many young adults do struggle with it.
Often, a first experience of significant anxiety or depression will come in the form of a long-term sense of being in a bad mood, or of feeling “unwell” or “uneasy”. However, there are other important symptoms to look out for, including but not limited to:
- Major changes in sleep patterns or ability to sleep
- Major changes in appetite or eating
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling sad much of the time or for long periods of time
- Finding it difficult to stop worrying
- Feeling afraid
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others
- Feeling hopeless
- Unusual perceptual disturbances or experiences
Fortunately, there are many resources available to individuals who are struggling to adjust to higher education and/or living on one’s own or with other students. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, in particular, is an effective treatment for many instances of anxiety and depression.
With cognitive-behavioural therapy, the focus is on identifying different aspects of the difficulties being experienced, analysing the individual’s responses to those difficulties, and then assessing how those responses are or aren’t helpful. Together, the therapist and individual then decide where these thoughts, feelings and behaviours can be changed for the better. As well as facilitating positive change, the therapist provides essential support as the individual confronts their difficulties, and helps manage the individual’s progress in a way that is catered towards their personal needs.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing anxiety or depression, simply contact our private London psychology clinic today.