Understanding Anxiety and Depression in College Students

Written By Marc Lehman, Owner and Family Therapist at


It can be difficult for parents to understand why their college student may be dealing with anxiety or depression. For many, this is a new experience outside of the home and navigating those emotions can be intimidating. Being aware of the most common reasons why students may become anxious or depressed while at college can help parents better support their children through this challenging time.

Pressure From Peers and Professors

The pressure to succeed—both academically and socially—can become overwhelming for some college students. The fear of not being accepted by peers, or the feeling that they are not measuring up to expectations from professors, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, which in turn can cause depression and anxiety. Additionally, if students strive too much for perfection, their unrealistic expectations can also lead to stress, fear of failure, and even depression.

Lack Of Support System

In many cases, college students may feel isolated or alone as they are away from home for the first time. Without a strong support system in place it can be hard for students to find someone to talk to about their worries and concerns. This lack of emotional support can contribute significantly to feelings of loneliness and helplessness which could lead to depression or anxiety issues.

Financial Stressors

For many college students’ money is tight; tuition fees have risen in recent years leaving more families struggling with high costs. This financial burden on top of other expenses such as rent, food costs and textbooks could cause immense stress which may result in mental health challenges like anxiety or depression. Even something as small as not being able to afford the same clothes that others have could make a student feel inadequate or excluded leading them down a slippery slope emotionally speaking.

It’s important for parents to understand what might be causing their college student’s mental health challenges so that they can provide adequate support during this difficult time away from home. Being aware of the potential pressures from peers or professors, lack of a supportive network or family system, or financial difficulties will help both parents and students navigate these issues together successfully until graduation day! With proper understanding and compassion from family members especially parents, college students will have an easier time managing any depression or anxiety that arises during these formative years away from home.