My online face, beautified, perfect,
Let me count, how many likes.
Hold that cupcake, give me a close-up,
Yeah, that's right, Instagram before the bite.
I'm really popular online, with 7 thousand 7 hundred and 7 friends,
But in real life, when I'm down, I have no one.
I play games instead, chatting with people I have never met,
Awkward in person, can we just text?
I'm losing my social ability,
Why am I feeling lonely when I'm pinged constantly?
I guess this is the new norm,
With 1 in 5 college students having depression or anxiety.
Hi, mom, help, I think I am a little mental.
College is supposed to be the garden of Eden, a controlled environment where students can have a wondrous time of new experiences and great freedom to explore new ideas and find one's true self.
In recent years, however, depression and anxiety have afflicted college students at alarming rates. As noted in the latest Center for Collegiate Mental Health report, anxiety and depression are the top reasons that college students seek counseling.
Research shows that nearly 1 in 5 university students are affected with anxiety or depression.
But why are those disorders so prevalent among college students now? From my personal observations, I could think of the following factors:
This is a huge one.
For example, with the rise of social media, we each have a real-life and a virtual life. Before the use of social media, friends enjoy each other's company during social hangouts and fully enjoying the moment. But now, it is very common to see people who are physically together but engrossed in posting experiences, reading feeds, replying text-message and taking selfies. So the virtual life is competing and at times becomes more important than real life. This causes impaired social interactions and feeling of isolation.
For me personally, I find that limiting the amount of people that I follow and the feed and news that I am reading helps.
In addition to social media, several other studies have also found that mobile phone addiction is associated with increasing sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety and overall stress.
For example, one study found that almost 50 percent of college students indicated they woke up at night to answer text messages. The same study found that the more people use technology during their sleeping hours, the poorer the quality of their sleep and the higher their rates of depression and anxiety.
College students who reported being victims of cyberbullying in high school, which has nearly doubled in the past decade, also had significantly higher rates of anxiety and depression. In addition to that, people share their idealized happy moments online that can cause jealousy in their friends. This kind of social comparison can cause discontent and depressed feelings.
There are many other stresses, such as homesickness, separation anxiety from parents and old friends, dread of student loan and debt and fear of not getting a job after college. In addition to these, due to the small family size that is common these days, parents can get over-involved in children's lives and such parental over-involvement can foster dependence, anxiety, depression and thwart creativity.
What to do then?
If it is not so severe, one can try to use various methods to self-help. Some of these are discussed in my article College anxiety and how to beat it. If it is severe and affecting your daily life, it is important to call hotline or get help from school counselor or mental health professionals.