Generally the first significant life decision we make is college. Although this is an exciting time, it is also an extremely stressful time. It is getting harder and harder to get into college and funding is becoming scarce. When I specialized in adolescents, my practice was frequently full of high school seniors and college freshmen. The seniors are overwhelmed with the prospect of how to make the college decision. Once they get accepted, the sadness of leaving their friends and family settles in. Unfortunately there are more seniors not able to go to college, which can be very difficult on students who worked hard in school expecting to move on to college right after high school. It is common to hear people talk about how wonderful senior year is but I have not seen that very often. I think maybe it is in hindsight that we romanticize senior year but I have seen overwhelming depression from a profound number of seniors.
Then the transition comes and they are in college and there is all the excitement of the newfound freedom, except who is there to hold them to task? How are they going to organize themselves for fun and hard work? There is no routine and everything that was familiar is now gone. Even worse, the depression is often overwhelming for those who are left behind and are not able to go off to college like all of their friends. Frequently those individuals feel like they have failed because they did not reach the goal that all seniors are dreaming of.
I also see people becoming depressed again around senior year of college. What do they do now that they have their degree? How do they seek a job? If they are one of the lucky ones and are able to secure a good job out of college, they now have to figure out how to budget, where to live, how to make friends outside of school, say goodbye to the college friends they have made and again leaving everything that is familiar. It is a big transition that often causes depression in people.
It is important to remember that depression is a treatable condition and no one has to suffer alone and in isolation.