Major college complaints among new college students include mental health issues and physical health concerns. Here are some tips to promote college student health all year long.
The first year of school is tough for everyone and college is no exception. For the first time, you’ll be on your own. As exciting as your newfound independence can be, it’s also challenging to maintain a busy schedule; after all, you’ll have to balance classwork, homework, clubs, and social events. At the end of the day, you might find that your mental and physical health can start to suffer as a result. Let’s look at some of the common college complaints.
Traversing this new landscape can be exciting but it’s also fraught with potential health issues. If you’re one of the many new freshmen entering a university classroom for the first time, watch out for these common college complaints —student health issues —both mental and physical.
Mental health issues: Depression and anxiety
According to the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, as many as 36% of college students will experience mental health issues like depression at some point in their college career. For many people, depression can be a genetic issue; if your family has a history of depression, you’re more likely to suffer from this mental illness as a result. However, traumatic events and sudden life changes — both good and bad — can stimulate bouts of depression in just about anyone.
In fact, depression is one of the primary reasons college students will drop out of their program or engage in academic leave. This mental health concern and frequent college complaint is characterized by the following:
- A lack of motivation
- General feelings of sadness
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping or eating
- Feelings of hopelessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating
Keep in mind that these symptoms can look different from person to person. While some people might experience all of these symptoms, others will only express a few. Visiting your campus’ counseling center is a great way to get a better grasp on your mental health.
Additionally, it’s natural to feel this way from time to time. Just because you’re feeling down in the dumps doesn’t mean you’re facing depression. Even though mental health issues like depression are becoming an increasingly common college complaint, it is the chronic presence of these symptoms for an extended period of time that makes it a concern. Regardless, taking a trip to the counseling center or your local doctor is a great way to better understand your mental health and overall wellbeing.
Anxiety is another common mental health concern among college complaints. The sudden move to a new town with a different workload is enough to make anyone feel stressed. These two mental health issues — anxiety and depression — are included in the same section since they often go hand in hand. Even small life changes can be enough to spark feelings of nervousness.
Some days, you might find that you’re more irritable than normal. At night, racing thoughts might keep you awake. While low levels of stress are necessary factors in everyday life, chronic or long-lasting feelings of stress can indicate a larger issue. When feelings of anxiety start to impede your daily life, relying on a healthcare professional is vital in taking your mental health into your own hands, a vital mission for improving college student health.
Physical health concerns: STDs and more
College is an entirely new world. While the new terrain can certainly cause a twisted ankle, it’s often the social components of college that lead to a slew of physical health issues. In this section, we’ll take shallow dives into a number of physical health concerns that create common college complaints among students.
- Colds and the flu
There’s a reason that the flu shot is recommended each fall; when students enter their new classroom, their germs come with them. It’s typical to see higher rates of the common cold and the yearly flu plague college campuses during the fall semester. Be sure to get the flu vaccine and wash your hands whenever you can to stay healthy. Remember that the flu is a common college complaint that can easily be prevented with proper care of the immune system.
College movies don’t get everything right but their twisted tales have a nugget of truth; promiscuity is more common in college than many care to admit. In fact, STDs rates are higher than they’ve ever been. While this is the perfect time to explore your sexuality and discover what you like in a partner, sexually transmitted diseases and infections are a major college student health concern.
Luckily, many colleges provide free birth control options for students, including condoms. Practicing safe sex is one of the best ways to prevent contracting an illness from a partner — and one of the best ways to stop yourself from spreading it to others. Talk to your healthcare provider or visit your local urgent care clinic for more information about sexually transmitted infections and safe sex practices.
- Insomnia/sleep deprivation
One of the “rites of passage” for students is to pull an all-nighter. There’s this problematic idea that staying up all night writing an essay or studying is the best way to prove that you’re a dedicated student, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
While anxiety might play a role in developing insomnia, you shouldn’t try to stay awake for the sake of a class. Listen to your body and try to get the recommended eight hours of sleep to do better in school and maintain a healthy immune system.
- Sports injuries
College sports are an intrinsic component in the college experience. Whether you’re playing a D1 sport for your university or keeping up with your cardio through a club team, sports injuries can happen at any time. This goes double if you’re trying out a new sport for the first time.
If you rush into a new sport, you’re more likely to suffer a fracture or sprain. Stay safe on the field by taking it slow for the first couple weeks of practice. As your body gets used to your sport, you’ll find that it’s much easier to pivot and move.
While smoking cigarettes usually starts in high school or earlier, college is another prime time to invest in this detrimental habit. After all, it looks cool and it’s an easy habit to fall into while you’re drinking with friends. However, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. Before you take up this costly habit, think twice about the threat this could pose on your health.
Where physical health and mental health meet: Eating disorders and alcoholism
Oftentimes, issues affecting mind and body intersect. Two of the most worrying concerns plaguing student college health are eating disorders and alcoholism.
Eating disorders can strike at any time for any reason, but they’re particularly common among college students. If you have ever heard of the “freshman 15,” you’re not alone; the sudden shift from high school to college is enough for anyone to gain a couple of pounds. With the threat of weight gain looming overhead, some students go to drastic levels to maintain or lose weight. Others will suffer from anxiety and find that monitoring their meals is the only way that they can achieve a sense of control.
As many as 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder. Many don’t realize that their eating habits are a problem until they start to suffer the side effects of poor nutrition. This includes weight loss, heart problems, dehydration, irregular menstruation, and worse. If you or a friend starts to fear eating in public or develops improper nutritional habits, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional to seek help for your mental and physical health.
Where there are college students, there is alcohol. There’s no doubt that underage drinking occurs in college, but excessive binge drinking can lead to a number of psychological and health issues.
The primary issue is that few people know what binge drinking is in the first place. Many freshmen see their friends drinking an entire six-pack and think that’s a normal amount of alcohol. Keep in mind that a “normal” amount of alcohol is limited to one drink per hour. Broken down, this equates to 12 fl oz of beer, one shot of 40-proof alcohol, or 5 fl oz of wine.
Binge drinking is defined by a man consuming more than 5 drinks in the span of two hours and a woman ingesting more than 4. Any more than that and you’re putting your body at risk for alcohol poisoning. Worse yet, if binge drinking becomes a habit, you might fall into patterns of an alcoholic. This psychological and physical addiction is hard to break. The best prevention is drinking responsibly or avoiding alcohol altogether.
In conclusion, we all need to be aware of these critical college complaints. There are many threats to college students that could sully their first semester. When you’re ready to enjoy your freshman year — and stay safe — consider these common health issues. When you’re aware these possibilities exist, you can take the best action to prevent them from occurring.
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