Stressed Student

Know the warning signs of a potential mental health disorder

There is no question – college students are more stressed and anxious than in the past.

Going to college can be an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. It’s a great time for new experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.

That being said, college can also be overwhelming. I frequently see college students struggling with their academic course load, relationship problems, eating disorders, family conflicts, or substance abuse issues. Many also face economic stresses.

Some students arrive on campus with previously diagnosed mental health conditions, while others begin experiencing these issues for the first time while at college. 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24, meaning that college is a peak time for these issues to arise. Unfortunately, over 40% of students suffering do not seek help.

What can you do to be in-tune with your mental health and the mental health of others?


Being able to identify when you or someone else is experiencing a mental health disorder is the first step in addressing these issues before they become even more serious. Below are some of the most common warning signs that a student may be experiencing if they have a mental health disorder.

  1.  The National Institute of Mental Health states that persistent sadness, anxiety, feelings of guilt, loss of interest, difficulty concentrating or sleeping and even physical pains can all be signs of depression.
  2. Restlessness, muscle tension or constantly worrying can be signs of anxiety.
  3. An obsession with food, body shape or weight can be signs of an eating disorder.
  4. Withdrawing from friends, family and activities you used to enjoy.
  5. Anger, rage, feeling irritable, reckless or impulsive behavior.
  6. Frequent crying, changing in eating or sleeping habits.
  7. Neglecting personal hygiene.
  8. Excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs, increase in risk taking behavior.
  9. Thoughts about death or suicide.

Unfortunately, many students suffer in silence, rather than asking for the help they need. Having a mental illness, or any form of struggle, is nothing to be ashamed of. Seek counseling services at your school, speak to your parents, reach out to a friend or look for peer-run, student mental health organizations.

Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength!

This post was authored by Dr. Nancy Tice, a psychiatrist with 23 years of experience working with college students. Dr. Tice currently runs her own private practice in Long Island.