Why College Can Feel So Lonely
Going away to college can be exciting with all the new experiences and people; however, many students face emotional ups and downs throughout their academic years. Loneliness from home, test anxiety, social isolation, and worry about academics are just some of the unique challenges that college brings.
A college student is especially likely to experience loneliness during their first year of school. This is often the first time a student has been away from their parents and long-time friends. They may miss their home, familiar surroundings and family and friends.
Can Loneliness Interfere with My Thinking and Body?
Our bodies and brain are connected in so many ways. Loneliness and other feelings can manifest physically, emotionally, and cognitively. In fact, loneliness is a common emotion present in depression. In addition to loneliness, students may feel sadness, anxiety, and frustration. Loneliness usually doesn’t exist as an isolated emotion but is connected to other feelings.
If the mind is too focused on negative thinking patterns, then this could interfere with a student’s studies. These thoughts, referred to as automatic thoughts, tend to dominate the brain’s cognitive functioning. This means that learning any new material may be especially hard. Additionally, when the brain is stressed, this can negatively impact a student’s health. They may be more susceptible to sickness, have digested issues, or difficulty sleeping.
Why Is Loneliness So Common in College?
Loneliness is common in students because college can feel, at times, unfamiliar and socially isolating. Additionally, students’ normal support systems may not be well-established.
How can college students differentiate from loneliness and a bigger issue? If more severe emotions arise, persistent negative thinking occurs and new physical ailments present, then this could be a sign of a clinical mental health disorder. This is important to address with a therapist.
What Can College Students Do to Get Help?
College-aged students usually present in therapy with negative emotions, cognitive difficulties, social isolation, and physical issues. If these problems are not addressed, they can lead to more severe mental health issues and academic difficulties. Talking to others about their feelings is a very important way to deal with loneliness. This often helps to feel less isolated and alone. Joining a club or group with other students can facilitate connectedness to others.
Academic assessment is useful when a student is academically struggling and is seeking to understand what can be done. These assessments are often shared with teachers and school administrators to provide academic assistance.
Career counseling involves career assessment and professional advice to assist students in developing an academic and career path. Students often find career counseling insightful as they learn about what jobs would be best suited for their talents and interests.
Many colleges offer free therapy services at the college counseling center. If the student is receiving medical insurance benefits from their parents, they can contact their insurance company to find a local psychologist or therapist who specializes in student counseling.
Engaging in talk therapy or student counseling can be especially effective at identifying the cause of disturbing emotions and developing helpful coping skills. Also, a student can receive other helpful counseling services, including academic assessment, psychological testing, and career counseling. Dr. Mazzei provides counseling and has helped many college students overcome and thrive during their academic studies. She worked in a college counseling department and understands the unique challenges that students face. If you are looking to start therapy, please contact her Chandler office at 480-448-6755.