College Depression More Common Than Many Realize

Fraternity rushing, new friends -- most students can't wait to move out from home and go to college. But sometimes it isn't one big party. A University of Michigan survey suggests 15-percent of students have depression -- and more than half with significant symptoms. That means what's often billed as the best time of your life doesn't always turn out that way.

Three years ago, Diana Parrish, 20, started college with the same dreams as her classmates. But, at the end of her first semester, something changed.

"I was just completely unmotivated to do anything other than pretty much just sit in my room and lay and look at the wall. That was about it."

Researchers say depression in college is actually common. One reason -- 20-percent of the U.S. population is hit with depression -- and that doesn't exclude students.

"College is actually a mixed bag. There are parts of being in college that can serve as a protective factor, but then there are also parts that put students at risk," University Psychologist Sandy Pearson said.

The transition from living with parents to away from home and academic demands -- can trigger depression.

"What we also see sometimes is what we call the sophomore blues. So students who go through the honeymoon period their freshman year, but in that second year really start to struggle with the realities of college life."

Out of fear of flunking out of school -- Diana sought help -- getting counseling and medication.

"It seemed so daunting to have this go on forever, feeling like this."

She knows she could become depressed again but is now prepared to face it -- and hopes by hearing her story other students will be too.

"It will take time, and it will take work, and it won't be fun, but you will start to feel better."

Symptoms of depression to be aware of include; sleeping more or not sleeping, having trouble getting out of bed and going to class, lack of energy and motivation, feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. Students can log onto their school's counseling center website for more information. Many also include a screening test.