Stress is in full swing on many college campuses right now, as the fall semester's midterms give way to end-of-the-semester projects and final exams.
Under pressure, many college students (and really adults in general) make poor health choices. For students, binge drinking, late nights and poor food choices are a few of the most common. There are other, less-noticeable issues, however, that can cause serious challenges to the mental and physical health of college students.
Three of the biggest culprits are anxiety, prescription drug abuse and depression. For various reasons, these issues aren't always discussed openly -- even among other students. Understanding these issues, though, is one way to determine whether these health problems are troubling students you care about:
Anxiety in College Students
For most students, a lifetime of hopes and dreams is caught up in their success in college. Under such pressure, every test becomes a new stress and cause for anxiety. Sometimes, students are reluctant to discuss the pressure because they see their peers gliding by with no trouble -- at least, that's what they think. When they imagine their peers are successful and they aren't, it causes more anxiety.
Anxiety can be powerful. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 62% of college students struggling with mental health issues withdrew because of them.
The truth is, different aspects of college will be a challenge to everyone, but some people are better at keeping those fears hidden. Talking through what makes an individual anxious -- and healthy ways to deal with that anxiety -- is a first step toward making sure those fears don't become all-encompassing.
The Popularity of 'Study Drugs'
Adderall, a drug physicians use to treat ADHD, has gained popularity as a study drug because it is a stimulant, which allows students to stay awake longer to finish their coursework. It also causes the brain to release dopamine, which makes people feel happy and enjoy their homework more.
The abuse of this drug is systemic. In fact, 61% of college students have been offered stimulants like Adderall.
When not used for its intended purpose -- to treat ADHD -- Adderall and other similar drugs can have devastating consequences. According to the recent studies by The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, between the years 2005 and 2011, abuse from Adderall caused emergency room visits to rise 156%. Education about the dangers of taking drugs under the false pretenses of being more productive is crucial to alleviating this kind of drug abuse on college campuses.
Being Depressed in College
Depression is a silent disease for many college students. They feel like they should be happy -- experiencing freedom from the confines of parents and high school -- but they aren't, which is confusing.
Though many want the freedom college offers, they are unprepared for life without the comforts of home and the closeness of family. For others, college isn't the dream they were expecting, and it takes time to adjust to the reality of life on campus.
According to The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, around 36% of students deal with depression and 10% have thoughts of suicide.
Unfortunately, many college students act first and think later, which means they react to their feelings of depression in dangerous ways -- cutting, drinking or even taking their own lives. Regardless of their momentary feelings, young adults need to understand that their emotional suffering is likely temporary. Most colleges have free counseling services where students can deal with these complex issues privately.
Ways to Combat the Health Crises of College Students
Students need to know that, though they may be out on their own for the first time, they aren't alone.
Understanding and discovering methods for managing new responsibilities and pressures will be the first step to avoiding these issues.