Coping with Depression in College – You are not Alone

51% of young adults have experienced a depressive episode by the age of 18. defines Depression as ‘a mental health condition which can affect thinking, energy, feelings and behaviour. It can vary from mild to severe and can have a profound impact, affecting every aspect of the individual, their relationships, family and work life.’
Depression is a very common condition which affects 1 in 10 people at any one time, 450,000 people in Ireland alone. Any one of us of whatever age, gender or background can be affected. Recovery is very promising with early recognition and ongoing support being the key to a positive outcome.
“The study, published September the 13th in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, showed that 35 percent of first-year college students experienced symptoms consistent with at least one mental health issue.”

“Adolescent major depressive disorder (MDD) is a serious public health problem associated with significant emotional and socioeconomic burden.”

By the age of 18, approximately 11% of adolescents will have experienced a depressive episode.”

“Around the age of 15, gender differences in MDD begin to emerge, with girls reporting twice as many depressive episodes as compared to boys—a difference that persists throughout adulthood.”

“These episodes are linked to negative outcomes in adolescence (e.g., academic difficulties, substance use) as well as adulthood (e.g., lower income levels, greater marital conflict, higher incidence of substance use disorders), and approximately 75% of suicide attempters report a history of adolescent depression. Despite these alarming statistics and the subsequent negative sequelae, the etiological mechanisms contributing to the onset of adolescent MDD remain unclear.”

Treating depression:

(NOTE: It is critical that you get a correct diagnosis from a professional.)

• There are a number of treatment options available – lifestyle changes, talk therapies, medication or a combination of these


• Exercise can be very beneficial. Physical activity releases endorphins in your body which are known to improve your mood


• Additionally, sleep is often impacted when mood is low, it is helpful to consider what aids your sleep. Try not to drink tea and coffee late at night as they are stimulants. Consider leaving your electronic devices out of your bedroom. It is helpful to prepare for sleep



• Try to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. A healthy diet produces a healthy body and a healthy mind
• Alcohol is a depressant and can be a potent trigger to low mood, especially in individuals prone to depression. It can also interact dangerously with some medication


Depression in College:

It should be noted that the Athlone Institute of Technology Students’ Union (AITSU), supported by the Institute and Student Support Services, is actively calling on the government to invest €3 million in mental health counselling to reduce the strain on support services on third-level campuses and to ringfence a further €55 million annually to tackle Ireland’s growing mental health crisis.

The Demand

According to Head of Counselling at Athlone Institute of Technology and PCHEI Spokesperson Treasa Fox, counselling services in colleges across the country are struggling to keep up with demand.

“The number of students currently enrolled in higher education is estimated to be 190,000, with one counsellor designated for every 3,000 students. This is double the number recommended by international guidelines and has caused huge delays in students accessing treatment,” she said.

Unrealistic Waiting Lists

Furthermore, delays in treatment can have staggering consequences for students, both in the short and long-term. The academic year is two twelve-week semesters, so if a problem occurs or becomes unmanageable mid-semester, without adequate intervention, a student could fail their exams, causing further emotional and financial distress.

It’s worth noting that Ireland has the fourth highest death by suicide rate in Europe amongst young people aged 18-24.


An Important Note

If you are experiencing any emotional or psychological distress, talk to our team of qualified counsellors/psychotherapists and a psychologist. For more information phone: (090) 646 8063 or email:

• Samaritans 116 123 or email
• Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
• Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
• Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
• Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)


Read More:

Randy P. Auerbach, PhD. 2018. Research. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2018].


The Journal. 2018. Men account for eight in 10 suicides in Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 4 October 2018].

AIT. 2018. AIT SU Calls for Increased funding for Mental Health Services. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 9 October 2018]

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