College Depression

Diana Parrish, age 20, started college three years ago with the same dreams as her classmates. But, at the end of her first semester, something changed.

"I was just completely unmotivated to do anything other than pretty much just sit in my room and lay and look at the wall. That was about it," Diana says.

Researchers say depression in college is actually common.

"College is actually a mixed bag. There are parts of being in college that can serve as a protective factor, but then there are also parts that put students at risk," says Stacey Pearson, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Michigan. She says the transition from living with parents to living away from home, as well as academic demands, can trigger depression.

"What we also see, sometimes, is what we call the sophomore blues. So, students who go through the honeymoon period their freshman year, but in that second year really start to struggle with the realities of college life," Dr. Pearson says.

Fearing she would flunk out of school, Diana sought help. Counseling and medication helped get her to a better mental state.

"It seemed so daunting to have this go on forever, feeling like this," she says. She knows she could become depressed again, but she is now prepared to face it. Diana hopes by sharing her story she'll help other students.

"It will take time, and it will take work, and it won't be fun, but you will start to feel better."

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