Common Causes of Stress in College


For all of the jokes that are made on the internet about the stress and anxiety college students experience on a daily basis, it is really not a humorous subject.

Serious mental illness, including depression and anxiety, are on a serious rise on college campuses everywhere. And it’s not just about college students being young and emotional. Each year, there are over one thousand suicides on college campuses.

So What is Causing this Phenomenon?

Currently, the college campus culture is incredibly conducive to stress and anxiety inducing behaviors. Living on a college campus may not cause mental illness — but it almost indisputably exacerbates the symptoms and results experienced with mental illness.

Between academic and social obligations, and the number of other stress causing conditions that come along with the college environment, it’s no surprise that mental illness is thriving on college campuses.

Whether you’re a student at University of Southern California or University of North Carolina, you should be aware of these issues facing college students. You can start by making yourself aware of these common causes of stress for college students.


This is probably the main thing any college student is going to struggle with. College students are simply expected to put way too much on their plate. In order to be considered a successful student, you need to take a full load of classes, as well as taking on extracurricular activities as well, like club participation or charity work. So that means not only attending class, but homework and studying for exams as well. And that’s just the academic side. The social side of college is just as important to your development as a person as the academic side is. So you have to manage your class work with your social obligations, trying to fit everything into the day. And that’s without even mentioning having a job or an internship. College students overwhelm themselves with work and general life obligations, and it leads to severe anxiety and dread.


Often a result of the aforementioned overextension, college students tend to not get enough sleep. Students overbook themselves, and then instead of cutting down on the things they have obligated themselves to do, they cut out the time allotted for sleep and meals. It makes sense in theory — no one will be affected except you by your lack of eating or sleeping. But then you end up in the hospital because you haven’t been taking care of yourself. Physical health has an underrated relationship with mental health.

Drug and Alcohol Use

A doctor once told me, “Anything you use to medicate your anxiety will ultimately cause you more anxiety.” Often, when college students start to feel overwhelmed with stress they find themselves leaning on drug and alcohol use even more heavily than the average college student does. This ultimately exacerbates mental illness and damages your health, making it even harder to manage all of the stresses that drove you to drug and alcohol use in the first place.