College and Depression Series (Part 2) by Emily A. Snider

Parents don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars sending their kids to college for them to work on emotional healing or to learn tools for managing personal health and wellness. But if a student is struggling with emotional issues in the depression-anxiety spectrum, these can seriously inhibit the student’s ability to fully engage in and take advantage of the academic, professional and social opportunities college offers.

More importantly, if a student starts college with underlying depression and/or anxiety issues, the stress of the environment can sometimes lead to tragic outcomes.[1] “Research estimates project that 1,088 suicides will occur on college campuses in the United States each year and that 9.5 percent of surveyed students seriously contemplated suicide.” [2]

Having seriously struggled through my own undergraduate experience due to depression and prior trauma, I know first-hand how incredibly skewed one’s perspective can become in relation to the pressures of the academic workload – and how crippling the effect can be.

One afternoon during freshman year, at the onset of feeling like I might be headed toward a nervous breakdown, I urgently sought help at the college counseling office. I was told the earliest available appointment was in two weeks. To tell an 18-year-old who is seeking emergency counseling (and is 3,000 miles from home) that they have to wait two weeks to see someone is irresponsible. Unfortunately, given that most college counseling offices are currently understaffed and under-resourced, it is also understandable.

Because I felt so desperate for help, I insisted on being seen that day and was not going to budge. I was able to speak to a counselor that afternoon, and the contact offered some temporary relief. Shortly after, though, the despair of isolation, anger and anxiety resumed. It continued to dog me through my remaining time in college and the rest of my twenties. 

After years of searching for relief, I have finally found a no-side-effect[3] approach to mental/emotional healing that I wish I had been exposed to earlier in life. With practice and application over the past two years, the body-mind tools of energy psychology (such as EFT and TAT[4]) have created a true shift in my awareness and experience. They have offered enough relief from the chronic nature of the depression I experienced for me to be able to see depression as a pattern of my past. I also know that, with continued application, my resilience and ability to be of service in the world will only increase. The beauty of energy psychology modalities is that they are incredibly easy to learn and use, both while working with a therapist and in a self-help context.

Given college suicide statistics and drop-out rates, it stands to reason college counselors need new tools to more swiftly improve the well-being of the students seeking their help, and students need tools to help regulate their moods on their own:

“There are an insurmountable number of cases for colleges to handle adequately. And this does not address the needs of the many students who are suffering from mental health problems but do not seek help from a counselor.” [5]

With more and more research evidence stacking in favor of energy psychology (EP)[6] techniques, and a growing understanding of the mechanisms at work in these treatments, it is possible that we finally have the tools at hand to help address this problem. The results of a 2010 Randomized Controlled Trial using EFT for depression in college students[7] indicated the clinical usefulness of EFT as a brief, cost-effective and efficacious treatment.

The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) is very excited to be a part of this solution, and will be offering a free webinar for college counselors interested in learning more about these techniques and how to establish an EP program at their institution. If you are interested in attending this webinar, email acepoffice@gmail.com. If you are new to energy psychology and would like to read more about the current research, visit www.energypsych.org/research.

-Emily A. Snider

Editor’s Note: This is our second article in a series about college and depression. To read our first article on the subject, click here.


[1] “These young people are often away from home and friends for the first time. They’re living with strangers, far from their support systems, and working under intense pressure – with disrupted sleeping, eating and exercise patterns. You could hardly design a more stressful atmosphere, particularly when depression or other mental health issues enter the picture.” College and Teen Suicide Statistics: The Grim Numbers Behind Adolescent Suicides and Attempts By Jackie Burrell

[2] “Suicide at College” by Richard Kadison and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo published on http://www.education.com

[3] After many years of being told that medication was likely what I needed, I finally surrendered to trying it at age 32. After five weeks of being on a low dose of Prozac, I experienced such profound anxiety that I had to be taken off the medication.

[4] EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Techniques and TAT stands for Tapas Acupressure Technique. These body-mind techniques are based on working with meridian-based acupressure points while cognitively tuning in to emotional and/or physical distress.

[5]  “Suicide at College” by Richard Kadison and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo published on http://www.education.com

[6] There have been over 50 peer-reviewed studies conducted on EP in dozens of countries by independent research teams. Eighteen of these studies are Randomly Controlled Trials (RCTs), 100% of which found statistically significant results in favor of EP (the .001 level was exceeded in 11/18 studies). To read more about current EP research, visit http://www.energypsych.org/research

[7] Brief Group Intervention Using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) for Depression in College Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial by Dawson Church, PhD, Midanelle De Asis, Audrey Books, PhD http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01117532.

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