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Ask The Experts

Completing College While Depressed?

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My depression, and its resulting illnesses, has caused me to nearly flunk out of college. I’m afraid at this point that I won’t be able to come through all of this and complete college, because I’m now out of money and won’t be able to get student loans for much longer. I also have about two or three semesters of failing grades to make up, which I also can’t afford.

It is hard to convince myself that there is any way to fix this, but I’m hoping that I can find some sort of resource or option that can help me get through this and become a good student.

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

You are facing a problem that is unfortunately not uncommon for college students. We know that many students have academic difficulties as a result of struggles with problems like depression and anxiety.

Have you been working with a counselor at your school’s counseling service? If not, you certainly should make an appointment to discuss your problems. If you are, you should discuss with your counselor the need for him or her to help you work with the dean of students at your school (you will need to give them permission to do this) to work out a plan to address your previous failures and your current struggles. If the dean comes to understand that the academic problems result from your depression, they will usually look or ways to try to be helpful.

If your depression is currently so serious that you cannot complete your work for this term, it may make sense for you to take a leave of absence from school until you are feeling better. Hopefully, your counselor can work with the academic offices to help create a plan for you. But it is most important that you work with them to get help for your depression so that you’ll ultimately be able to succeed in school.