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The 7 Most Common Mental Health Disorders Affecting College Students

A Breakdown of College-Aged Mental Health from a Trusted Towson Psychiatrist

The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors conducted a survey for college students to understand the scale in which they are experiencing mental health issues and whether or not universities offer adequate mental health resources. The study found that 21% of counseling center students present severe mental health concerns. Despite this high number of students experiencing serious mental health issues, nearly one in five college counseling center directors believe their services are inadequate.           

With this information—in addition to a surplus of other studies on the state of the college mental health crisis—it’s clear that mental health is a serious problem at the college level. The first step in confronting this crisis? Educating ourselves on the issue at hand. That’s why Psych Associates of Maryland—a trusted source for Towson psychiatrists and mental health practitioners—are here to break down the most common mental health disorders that college students face today.

Anxiety

How Anxiety Manifests on a College Campus

man with head in hands

Anxiety—defined by the DSM-5 as ‘anticipation of a future threat’—is the most prevalent mental health disorder on college campuses with more than 41% of students experiencing anxiety. This number is 36% higher than the percentage for the adult population as a whole, yet college students are often pushed aside to believe that their mental health issues are not severe because they are not facing ‘real world issues.’

More than half of students visiting college mental health facilities are seeking help for anxiety, but not all college campuses are able to cater to this demand. Many students in Maryland that are experiencing anxiety need counseling or medication for treatment, which in serious cases, is better left to seeking external help from a Towson psychiatrist due to shorter wait times and more thorough treatment capabilities.

Depression

Depression Overview from a Towson Psychiatrist

person crouching on floor

The National Institute of Mental health found that more than 30% of college students struggled with everyday functions due to depression. This includes struggling to get out of bed, focusing on their studies, maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits, and more. Depression can lead to feelings of helplessness and suicidal thoughts. Because suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people ages 15-24, it’s extremely important that college students have access to proper depression care, such as medication or TMS Therapy.

Addiction

Substance Abuse at the College Level

group of students drinking tequila

While many people associate college with the perfect time for light-hearted partying, binge drinking, and experimentation, it’s easy to forget that addictive habits often begin at the college level. However, it’s important to remember that college students are not kids with frivolous issues, but rather adults who face real-world adult issues.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 1 in 4 college students experience academic issues due to drinking and that 20% of college students have the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. The numbers can be heightened in students with a history of addiction in their family or with confounding mental health disorders, making it especially important to support college students facing addition early on.

ADHD

A Common Mental Health Condition Affecting Students

girl with glasses studying on laptop

While most people are diagnosed with ADHD during early childhood, ADHD is still untreated among 2.5% of adults. While ADHD is not overwhelmingly popular among the adult population as a whole, the symptoms of ADHD can be especially negative during college. People with ADHD often have trouble staying focused, being organized, and following directions, which can negatively impact their academic performance. 

For most people, ADHD is well-managed with medication in combination with counseling aimed towards developing skills for improved focus. However, many colleges don’t prioritize ADHD, making it difficult to find treatment. This is why it’s best in many cases to seek outside help from a Towson psychiatrist.                  

Bipolar Disorder

Managing Bipolar with the Help of a Licensed Towson Psychiatrist

black and white photo of anxious girl

At the college level, the lack of access to mental health care is particularly alarming in cases of disorders like Bipolar Disorder that are difficult to diagnose. The DSM-5 states that the lifetime risk of suicide among individuals with Bipolar Disorder is more than 15-times that of the neurotypical person.

Because most people experience their first symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in their late teens or early twenties, it is vital that students with concerns about Bipolar Disorder have access to the proper resources for managing this complex disorder. However, since college counseling centers often cannot provide the degree of support needed for Bipolar Disorder, these students are often misdiagnosed or under-treated for this serious condition.

Eating Disorders

An Overview of Eating Disorders from a Towson Psychiatrist

girl in black tank top

While eating disorders can sometimes be easy to spot by the trained eye, they are often overlooked due to societal norms. There are a variety of eating disorders—including anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and EDNOS—and they claim the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders

While many colleges and universities offer support groups for people with eating disorders, people with severe and highly-progressed eating disorders often need specialized, long-term attention that universities cannot cater to due to high demand. 


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A Complex Disorder Experienced by Many College Students

Anyone who was a victim or witness to a traumatic event has a risk of developing PTSD—a disorder in which the brain has trouble regulating stress caused by triggers of the traumatic event. Oftentimes associated primarily with combat veterans, college students are frequently overlooked when it comes to having PTSD. The truth of the matter, however, is that 1 in 5 women on a college campus is sexually assaulted, which is a leading cause of PTSD.

PTSD is often treated with a combination of medication and trauma therapy, but the long-term nature of this treatment is something most college counseling centers cannot cater to unless the school has a policy against turning away victims of a trauma, which is sometimes the case.


It’s clear that the variety of mental health concerns on a college campus and the scale of the issue is something that many college counseling centers cannot handle at the moment. To seek the care you need from a Towson Psychiatrist or other healthcare professional, get in touch with Psych Associates of Maryland. Their convenient locations around Maryland are the perfect solution to finally getting the help you need.


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