By Isabelle Perello |

Isolation. Loneliness. Intimidation. Stress. Freshman year at Baylor had begun, and all of these feelings churned inside of me as I said goodbye to my family and began to try and learn how to live on my own, for the most part.

A majority of all college freshmen experience these emotions to some extent when beginning school. It becomes a struggle to adjust to the stressful exam schedules, the lack of readily accessible food, and even a lack of curfew. The beginning of the college experience can be so intimidating to some that it completely deteriorates their mental health as a whole.

Dealing with these changes, all while experiencing the transition from adolescence to adulthood, can often trigger or unveil depression in young adults. It can be especially harmful to freshmen students who frequently are experiencing extreme homesickness or separation anxiety for the first time. 

Today, one in every five college students are affected by anxiety or depression.

For me, the beginning of college just amplified the depressive episodes I had already been experiencing since I was younger. Isolation was the biggest issue I experienced. I had just moved away from all of my friends and family and felt like I had no one to reach out to.

By sophomore year, these feelings had dulled as I got a small group of friends, joined an organization, and was learning how to procrastinate efficiently. But depression is an ever-present mental illness, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was never completely happy.

With some encouragement from my friends, I finally began seeing a counselor at the Baylor Counseling Center, which completely changed my life. I’m now an extreme advocate for therapy, as it has helped my mood completely turn for the better. I’m able to say confidently that I can deal with the stressful and triggering nature of college in a much healthier way.

Even though I found a positive way to manage my depression, many other students don’t get so lucky. Sometimes, the stress and triggers of depression in college get too overbearing and it becomes too late to help people.  

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month. With depression becoming more present and commonly seen as school begins, suicide has become the second most common cause of death among college students.

Warning signs for people that may be in a deeper depressive state or suicidal include “difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, appetite changes, withdrawing from participating in activities once enjoyed, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, unhappiness, and difficulty concentrating on school work.”

If you feel any of these symptoms, or may think a friend could be at risk, please reach out to the Baylor Counseling Center, a trusted friend or family member, or call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

College is hard. It’s difficult to make friends, study for exams and participate on campus, all while trying to maintain a healthy sleeping and eating schedule. But that doesn’t mean you are alone in the struggle.

So reach out. Get help if you need it, or even if you just want to try it. Every student should walk across that graduation stage with a big smile on their face, rather than not walk it at all.