College can be a tough time for many students. The transition from high school to college can be especially difficult, as students are faced with new challenges and responsibilities. Not only this, but they are now living alone, wherein it is up to them to structure and manage their own lives. This can be profoundly difficult for many, which sometimes leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms. One of the most common issues that college students face is anxiety. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the United States. But what can you, as a parent, do about it?
The most important thing you can do is to talk to your child about anxiety and depression. Many college students are reluctant to seek help for mental health problems, so it’s important to let them know that you’re there for them.
It’s also important to be aware of the signs of anxiety and depression. Let’s take a look at some of these signs and some strategies for how to interact with your child if they are struggling with anxiety, depression, or drinking in college.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways. For some people, it may be a feeling of general unease or worry. Others may experience more specific fears, such as anxiety about taking tests or speaking in public. Some people with anxiety may also suffer from physical symptoms, such as sweating, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing.
Anxiety can be a normal and healthy reaction to stress. However, when anxiety starts to interfere with daily life, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. College students with anxiety disorders often have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and participating in class. They may also avoid social situations and withdraw from activities they once enjoyed.
Untreated anxiety can lead to other problems, such as depression and substance abuse. According to the NIAAA, about 20% of people with anxiety disorders also suffer from alcohol use disorder.
Many college students turn to drink alcohol and using drugs as a way to cope with their anxiety. Drinking can provide temporary relief from anxiety symptoms. However, it can also make anxiety worse in the long run. Excessive alcohol consumption, especially binge drinking, can lead to dependence and addiction, which can make anxiety even more difficult to manage.
If you are a parent of a college student, it is important to be aware of the signs of anxiety and depression. If your child is having difficulty adjusting to college life, or if you notice a change in their mood or behavior, it is important to talk to them about what they are going through.
What Does Depression Look Like?
Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is a persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness that can interfere with daily life. People with depression may also experience physical symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss or gain, and insomnia.
Depression can be triggered by a number of different things. For some people, it may be caused by a major life event, such as the death of a loved one. For others, it may be the result of an underlying medical condition. College students may also be at risk for depression due to the stress of college life.
Untreated depression can lead to other problems, such as anxiety and substance abuse. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, many people with depression also suffer from anxiety disorders.
Many students turn to college binge drinking, especially at parties, as a way to cope with their depression. Drinking can provide temporary relief from depressive symptoms. However, it can also make depression worse in the long run. Drinking can lead to dependence and addiction, which can make depression even more difficult to manage.
If you are a parent of a college student, it is important to be aware of the signs of depression. If your child is having difficulty adjusting to college life, or if you notice a change in their mood or behavior, it is important to talk to them about what they are going through.
The Difference Between Casual College Drinking and Addictive or Binge Drinking
Almost everyone drinks alcohol on occasion, especially in college where binge drinking culture is prevalent. However, there is a big difference between casual drinking and addictive drinking. College students who drink excessively may be at risk for developing an alcohol use disorder.
People with alcohol use disorders often have difficulty controlling their drinking. They may feel like they need to drink in order to cope with their problems. They may also continue to drink despite the negative consequences, such as poor grades, job loss, or relationship problems.
Alcohol use disorders can lead to other alcohol-related problems, such as anxiety and depression. People with alcohol use disorders are also at a higher risk for accidents, injuries, and overdose
Some signs of an alcohol disorder or dependency include the following:
Drinking more alcohol than intended
Unable to control or reduce drinking
Experiencing negative alcohol-related consequences as a result of binge drinking, such as job loss or financial problems
Drinking in spite of personal or professional obligations
Continuing to drink despite health problems caused by drinking
If you are worried that your child may have an alcohol problem, it is important to talk to them about it. There are many resources available to help college students who are struggling with alcohol abuse.
Of course, this does not only pertain to alcohol. Many college students will turn to other substances as well, such as marijuana, cocaine, Adderall, and prescription opiates.
Why Do People Turn to Binge Drinking To Cope?
Oftentimes, we don’t know the root cause of our emotions or our perspectives. We shape our perspectives based on the environment we are in, the people we are with, and what we’ve been exposed to. It is easy for anyone to get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking. For some people, binge drinking alcohol can be a way to escape from these negative thoughts.
Drinking alcohol can provide temporary relief from depressive symptoms. However, as discussed previously, it can also make depression worse in the long run. Drinking can lead to dependence and addiction, which can make depression even more difficult to manage. This is not a sustainable coping mechanism as your child grows into adulthood, and can lead to huge life problems later down the road.
People who are feeling rudderless also turn to alcohol as a way to cope. They may feel like they have no direction in life, and drinking can help them to forget about their problems, even if only for a little while.
It is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant. It is not a solution to the root problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, there are other, more effective ways to cope. Some healthy coping mechanisms include exercise, journaling, and talking to a therapist. If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, there are many resources available to help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression, there are many resources available to help. The NIMH provides information on different types of mental health disorders and treatments.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides information on mental health and substance abuse disorders, as well as treatment options.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers support and resources for people living with mental illness and their loved ones.
The American College Health Association provides several resources on college student psychology and how parents can help their child through this transition.
A proactive solution can also be reaching out to sober living programs. Sober living homes provide a safe, sober, and sustainable environment in which college students can learn healthy coping mechanisms while being provided access to many resources such as outpatient treatment, psychiatry, therapy, 12-step meetings, and their sober community therein.
What Can You As a Parent Do To Help?
If you are worried that your child may have an alcohol problem, it is important to talk to them about it. There are many resources available to help college students who are struggling with alcohol consumption.
You can start the conversation by expressing your concern and asking if they want to talk about what is going on. It is important to listen without judgment and offer support.
There are many resources available to help college students who are struggling with alcohol consumption. Some of these resources include:
Substance abuse treatment programs
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, help is available. You can find more information and resources at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Sober Living Programs will also be able to point you in the right direction if you are confused about where to start.
The Bottom Line
It’s no secret that college can be a stressful time. Students are faced with new challenges and responsibilities, which can lead to anxiety and depression. For some people, drinking alcohol can be a way to cope with these feelings.
If your child is struggling with anxiety, depression, or drinking, there are many resources available to help. The first step is to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can assess your child’s symptoms and determine the best course of treatment.
There are many effective treatments for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. With the right help, your child can manage their symptoms and live a happy and healthy life.
Last Updated on May 24, 2023