College and grad school students know that they face academic stress, but do they know that this stress can sometimes lead to depression? Those students who are over-stressed and depressed are also more prone than others to binge drink, abuse drugs, and engage in risky sexual behaviors. However, students who understand how to cope with academic stress and the thoughts and feelings associated with it can overcome their depression symptoms.
Academic Stress in College Students: Here’s What You Need to Know
Academic stress refers to the body’s response when students’ academic-related demands exceed the time they have available to complete their work, or their academic capabilities. Some researchers estimate stress affects up to 30% of students during their academic careers. There are many potential causes of academic stress, including:
- Achievement Anxiety: Achievement anxiety refers to a fear of failure in an academic setting. It sometimes occurs if a student fails to meet academic expectations set by parents, peers, teachers, or even the students themselves.
- Sleep Deprivation: Insomnia has been shown to initiate the body’s defense mechanisms, causing heart palpitations, tension, and other symptoms that contribute to stress.
- Upcoming Tests: Students worried about finding time to study or getting a good grade may experience stress in the days and hours leading up to a test.
- Heavy Workload: Enrolling in classes that require significant study time may result in a heavy workload that contributes to stress.
- Lack of “Down Time”: Although schoolwork is important, students who focus exclusively on their studies may struggle with stress due to a lack of sufficient “down time” outside of school.
As academic stress increases, students become more susceptible to depression symptoms. If students cannot identify depression as they cause of their symptoms, they may not be able to sufficiently treat them, making it tough to focus on classes or other everyday activities that they would normally enjoy.
What Are the Signs of Depression in Higher Ed Students?
Depression can affect the way a person thinks, behaves, and acts. It impacts individuals of all ages and causes a variety of symptoms, including:
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness
- Back pain, headaches, and other physical problems
College students dealing with depression symptoms over the course of several days, weeks, or months may experience academic problems as well. Worst of all, if a college student’s depression symptoms go unaddressed, this individual may struggle to make the most of his or her college experience.
How to Treat Depression Symptoms in Higher Ed Students
Depression symptoms can escalate quickly. If a student is struggling with depression, it is paramount for him or her to seek medical help right away. In doing so, a college student can work with a doctor to create a custom treatment plan for his or her depression symptoms.
Oftentimes, academic stress may prove to be too much for a college student. In this situation, a college student can take steps to lower his or her stress levels, including:
- Practice Self-Care: Students who strive to get a good night’s sleep, eat well, exercise, and stay away from alcohol and drugs are generally well-equipped to address their depression symptoms.
- Take a Break: College and graduate school offer opportunities for academic growth, as well as opportunities to meet new people and have fun. Therefore, taking a night off from studying to spend time with friends could help a college student maintain a positive outlook — and combat his or her depression symptoms.
- Establish Realistic Expectations: Much in the same way Rome was not built in a day, a student should not expect to graduate overnight. Instead, students should try to set small goals and build on them over time, enabling them to establish realistic expectations for their academic career. Setting realistic, attainable goals also helps college students avoid stress that would otherwise hamper their health and well-being.
- Focus on the Task at Hand: A student managing a full course load may feel like the world is on their If possible, taking a more manageable number of classes each term can minimize the risk of academic stress.
If academic stress constantly plagues a student, they may choose talk therapy or student counseling available through the school, or a doctor may prescribe an antidepressant medication as a depression treatment. Antidepressants sometimes help students alleviate their depression symptoms, but not all depression medications deliver the same results. In some cases, students may even experience unwanted side effects like nausea, weight gain, sleeplessness or drowsiness as a result of their antidepressant.
Depression therapy options like deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) may also help students treat their depression symptoms, as dTMS offers higher rates of patient success than antidepressant medications alone. With a dTMS therapy program in place, a college student may achieve long-lasting depression symptom relief without the harsh side effects that antidepressants can cause.
How Does dTMS Therapy Work?
A dTMS therapy program is typically completed over six weeks, with treatment sessions five days per week. Each treatment session usually lasts 20 minutes and is completed in an office setting. After treatment sessions, dTMS therapy patients can immediately return to school, work, or other everyday activities.
During a dTMS therapy session, a covered magnetic stimulating coil is placed on a patient’s head, targeting a specific region of the brain that is underactive in patients with depression, which causes depressive symptoms. Next, a magnetic field is generated from the stimulating coil that passes into the patient’s skull. This causes the underactive neurons to fire, progressively alleviating depression symptoms and elevating mood over the course of treatment.
In addition, dTMS therapy has been FDA-cleared for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health conditions. This revolutionary depression treatment offers a number of advantages over many traditional depression therapies, including:
- Non-Invasive: dTMS therapy does not require electrical shocks or anesthesia, and is not painful.
- No Drugs: dTMS therapy does not require the use of any medications, but can be used in combination with your existing antidepressant prescription.
- Minimal Side Effects: dTMS therapy does not cause weight gain or loss, dry mouth, or other side effects commonly associated with antidepressants. The only side effect is minimal headache for some patients during the first week of treatment, which can be minimized with an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Achieve TMS is a leading provider of dTMS therapy in the United States. We work with college students and anyone else looking for help in addressing their depression symptoms. We are happy to meet with a patient, analyze his or her depression symptoms, and determine if this individual is a good candidate for dTMS therapy.
For students dealing with and depression symptoms, help is available from Achieve TMS. To schedule a free dTMS therapy consultation with Achieve TMS, please call or text us today at 877-296-4968.