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Depressed 19 Year Old College Student

Question:

Hello, I am a 19 year old college student. My whole life I have always been very socially behind, very few friends and never really good with girls or dating. Now that I am 19, I find myself with only 1 friend, and have only had one short-term relationship with a girl I met off Myspace. We dated for 2 months then she broke up with me. My lack of social experience has left me very depressed and my problem is only getting worse. I don’t know how to make new friends or find a date. Sometimes when people call me at home I am afraid to answer the phone, so I let the voicemail pick up and never call them back. In school I have good grades and have no problem talking to anyone in my class, it just never turns into anything. In other words, I talk to these people in class, but never see them again outside of class. What is my problem? How can I impove myself to be better with people?

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Answer:

Most probably, you are depressed because you are avoiding social situations in order to reduce your level of social anxiety. In other words, the strategy of avoidance is not working and it never does for anyone.

In my experience and in my opinion, college classes do not seem to provide an atmosphere for meeting friends. I understand what you are saying about your classes. Yes, you speak to other students but this does not lead to anything happening after class. That seems fairly typical. On the other hand, you are discouraging people from socializing with you by failing to answer calls you recieve on your voice mail and that does not help the situation. Despite what I just said about classes, my bet is that people would have lunch with you after class if you made yourself more available. I am guessing that you discourage that through non verbal messages you send out to people.

There are many approaches you can take to getting help for yourself. Of course, I am going to encourage you to go to the college health center and make an appointment to see a counselor so that you can get some psychotherapy. My wish is that you would receive Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but that may not happen. Nevertheless, even talking to a therapist will help you.

In addition to psychotherapy I want to encourage you to read self help books on shyness and on social anxiety. There are many available in the book stores, libraries and on this web site where you will find one for free. These books provide useful exercises for you to do in the service of getting to go out and practice new behaviors. This practice combined with psychotherapy, would be really good for you.

Naturally, joining a fraternity or "house plan" would be the easiest way for you to make new friends. I am sure that there are many clubs and activities that you could get involved with on campus, such as the "skiing club, bowling club, etc."

My point is that you have to begin reversing your strategy of avoiding. Answer the phone when it rings, invite the students you speak to in class to join you at lunch, have lunch in the student cafeteria and choose a table where other students are sitting, especially those you know from classed. Look people in the eye when you see them and say "Hi." Do this even if they are strangers. When you say "Hi" say it out loud. If they do not respond, repeat it when you see them the next day.

This advice is coming to you from a person who is not only a psychotherapist but a fellow shy or socially avoidant person. I know these strategies work because I used them on myself at your age. You have the advantage of learning from me. These are things you will always have to do. I can guarantee you that, by making the effort and doing these and other things, your socially anxiety will gradually reverse, you will grow in self confidence and self esteem and will start to feel a lot better.

However, these improvements will not happen over night. By starting now you will begin to face a painful process of growing and learning that will help you feel a lot better. Remember the old Confcious saying that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Take those first steps: Psychotherapy and self help books and carrying out the suggested exercises and eye contact, lunch, etc.

Good luck

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    i am also a 19 yr old female student, and feeling exactly the same way. i have no social network, and not even a single friend. and yet i go to college and wish for the same thing to happen, but does not develop into anything after classes. when i moved areas when i was 13 i found it difficult adjusting and fitting in, i was then soon bullied and beaten up after school for nothin i can account for, as i was shy and reserved. my mum used to always say it was because it was jealousy as i was beautiful. however i have never beileved this, even though i have heard it over and over again from my family. I am also tryin really hard to this day to find like minded people like myself that i can call my friends. i have been under a phychiatrist for a few years now, and been put on anti-depressants for sleep and anxiety. although not bein able to sleep since i was 14 i have now found a prescipition drug helpful ( mirtazapan) which has helped significantly. however i am running out of ideas and ways to help myself from finding friends, are there any soceities i can join, or clubs i can join?

  • anonymous

    I dont really know what to say accept for i am experiencing the exact same problems as you and I am also 19 years old and have just started college. Hang in there!

  • Anonymous-2

    It feels like ive spent my whole life trying to find a good friend... sometimes any friends.

    I tried so hard to make friends this year... i put the effort in.. suggesting hanging outside class and stuff... and we would... like study together etc... and I got really excited...even though I usually invited myself. before the holidays I said things like 'we should so go to the beach when its sunny'...'we should all catch up in the holidays some time'...'if ur in my area we should hit the mall' - hmm been weeks now and no ones called me or anything to ask me out.

    I give these people my all. And I deserve better than this (So do u)

  • Anonymous-3

    hang in there it can only get better

  • Patrick

    listen im a freshen in college too... im going through the same problem... you will get through it I know their is hope at the end of the tunnel...i have my good days and plenty of bad days... but i have hope because i know i am young and i am going throught a phase that will make me stronger... go to the gym and better yourself

  • Anonymous-4

    For all those young hearts that say they are depressed:

    Easy come - Easy Go!! (which means, what comes easy, goes away easy!! in other words, if it is hard to get, it will stay with you - so you need to work for it!)

    Good things come to those that are patient and persevere. You will rule!

    Don't try to fit in, when you are supposed to "stand out".

    Be yourself, think positive. Each one of us have something unique to offer to others. Work on things that you are good at and become an expert. In order to keep your mind at ease, keep your body in good shape. Keep the inner peace no matter what.. easier said than done eh? Every baby step gets you to the top of the mountain. If you try, you can, yes you can. Never give up! The world is full of choices.

    Find people that have common interests that you have. Music, arts, science, singing, biking.. whatever it is, the world is wide open. Get creative!

    Cheers,

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