College-Aged People Report Symptoms of Depression During the Pandemic

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October 27, 2020

A survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) says Gen-Z adults, those 18-years-old to 23-years-old, are experiencing high levels of stress and are the most likely age to report symptoms of depression.

More than seven in ten reported experiencing common symptoms of depression in the previous two weeks. These symptoms include feeling so tired they sat around and did nothing, having trouble thinking and concentrating, and feeling very restless, lonely, miserable or unhappy.

Gen-Z adults in college attributed the uncertainty about the school year as a “significant source of stress.” Sixty-seven percent said the pandemic made it impossible to plan for the future. Gen-Z teens, those aged 13 to 17, agreed as well (51%).

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression can impact a student’s ability to work, study, interact with peers and take care of themselves, and can also lead to thoughts of suicide.

According to an article on CNBC, the APA says one way to help decrease anxiety is to give young people outlets to talk about issues that are troubling them. “Practicing the rule of three good things, in which you reflect on three good things that happened at the end of the day, may be helpful, the APA suggests,” the article states.

In an article on, suggestions on avoiding depression include:
• regular exercise
• cutting back on social media time
• having a strong support system
• minimizing daily choices
• reducing stress
• maintaining a treatment plan if you have already have one
• getting plenty of sleep
• avoiding negative social interactions
• eating well
• maintaining a healthy weight
• reading prescription medication side effects carefully
• reducing alcohol and drug use
• getting off nicotine
• planning for unavoidable triggers
• managing chronic conditions

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration provides a free, confidential helpline – 1-800-622-HELP (4357).

Student Loan Stress

Another source of stress for this age group could be dealing with student loan debt after graduating or leaving college.

There are options for student loan borrowers struggling to make payments. Federal loans offer income-driven repayment plans, where payments are based on income and family size. Federal student loans also offer options for a deferment, temporarily postponing payments due to unemployment or economic hardship.

For private loans, whether or not a temporarily payment pause is available depends on the specific lender. You can call your lender directly to see what the options are.

Keep in mind that during a forbearance or deferment, unless you have federal subsidized loans, interest will continue to accrue. (This does not apply to the automatic federal payment pause from the CARES Act, which ends December 31, 2020.)

If you have high-interest private loans, you could consider refinancing student loans to potentially secure a lower interest rate. Or you could go on a longer payment term, which will result in you paying more interest, but could lower your monthly payment, making it more manageable. Refinancing federal student loans means a loss in all federal benefits. These include the option to pause payments, the ability to make payments based on your income, potential for student loan forgiveness, potential for widespread forgiveness, a death and disability discharge, and potential for subsidized loans.

If you’ve decided refinancing is right for you, check out our list of the best lenders. Splash Financial is a student loan refinance marketplace that allows you to check your rate and matches you to a lender.

The ChangEd app helps student loan borrowers pay down their debt faster. Link your credit and debit cards and with every purchase you make, the total is rounded up, and that “spare change” is added to your student loans. You can also earn points for potential free payments. Read our review to learn more.

At, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

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