Information by Diagnoses

Even though we may casually use the word “depression” to describe sadness, Major Depressive Disorder is a serious mental health condition that requires treatment. If you have signs and symptoms of depression lasting every day for more than 2 weeks’, you may need an evaluation for depression. To learn more about depression, visit


Stress is inevitable, and sometimes anxiety is useful. But when anxiety is excessive, keeps occurring even despite your rational mind knowing better, or interferes with daily life, it may be an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders occur in 1 out of 3 people. Different anxiety disorders are described here:

Eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric conditions where the balance of eating behaviors, emotions and feelings are intertwined. A treatment team approach, with a primary care doctor, registered dietician, therapist, and psychiatrist is often required. For those underweight, weight restoration is a necessary part of getting well. For more information, see What Are Eating Disorders?. Although there are only a few psychiatric medications with evidence to help eating disorders, often medications may be needed to treat co-occurring conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Although we may use the terms “obsessed” and “compulsive” casually, legitimate OCD is characterized by uncontrolled repetitive thoughts, images or sensations that drive one to perform repeated behaviors. These are more than a particular way of doing things or “double-checking.” Treatment, therapies and other information can be found at NIH OCD Treatment and Therapies including a special form of cognitive behavioral psychotherapy called Exposure/Response Prevention (Ex/RP).

Sometimes, terrible things can happen. For resources on coping, visit Coping After Disaster. Some reactions to trauma can progress to a post-traumatic syndrome or acute stress disorder, based on how quickly the reactions show up. To learn more about PTSD and Acute Stress Disorders and for information on coping, visit Coping After Disaster.There are milder forms of disorders after a stressful life event called Adjustment Disorders. To learn more, visit Adjustment Disorders.


More than the regular mood variations of life, Bipolar Disorder is characterized by depressive moods as well as elevated moods that are accompanied by a decreased need for sleep. Both mood states can cause serious life problems. Often, the depressed moods come first. To learn more, review each of these helpful links: What Are Bipolar Disorders?; NAMI - Bipolar Disorder; and NIH - Bipolar Disorder. Sometimes, people can mistake mood variations for Personality Traits or Disorders. Bipolar Disorder can benefit from Life/Mood Chart tracking tools including: Mood Charting; Mood Tracking; or Mood Diary.

Although many university students often feel frustrated by decreased concentration and attention span, ADHD is a condition that, almost always, emerges in childhood or early adolescence. Our service can continue care for legitimately identified childhood ADHD that persists into adulthood, but due to problematic misuse and diversion (see Nonmedical Use of Adderall® among Full-Time College Students), we will not make a new diagnosis of ADHD in the college years. If you are seeking a new diagnosis for ADHD, you can be referred to a community provider who is in the SHIP network. Please refer to SHC’s ADHD policy and algorithm. Additional information can be found at College Students with ADHD.

Having trouble with excessive use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, including cannabis, is a brain disorder. Here is a link to a chart of commonly abused substances: NIH Commonly Abused Drug Charts. For more information about addiction, withdrawal, and tolerance, see The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction:The Basics.

Treatment of substance use disorders includes behavioral changes, and sometimes, brief medications. See Treatment and Recovery. It can be difficult to make other psychiatric diagnoses when substance use is co-occurring. Therefore, we will encourage a sustained period of being clean and sober before making other diagnoses on a case-by-case basis.


Thanks to our partners at UCSB, this very helpful link outlines what you need to know Life of the Party at UCSB: Alcohol and Drugs. Our partners at UCI’s Center for Student Wellness & Health Promotion offer Alcohol Consultations.

Attending 12-step based meetings, (e.g., 100 meetings in 100 days) can help with sobriety.  A resource listing of all Orange County Meetings can be found here: Orange County Alcoholics Anonymous, including one on campus.

Marijuana (Cannabis)

Even though state laws have been passed to legalize the use of marijuana, we find that there are insufficient, well-conducted rigorous scientific trials to recommend its use at any current clinical levels of evidence. UCI is also a drug and tobacco-free environment, including marijuana. For further information, see NIH Most Commonly Used Addictive Drugs, especially the section on Medical Marijuana.

Stimulant Abuse (Amphetamine Salts and Methylphenidate)

Although these articles are about one type of stimulant, the risks exist for the category of stimulants in general. See The NY Times Magazine Generation Adderall and NY Times Opinion Pages: The Last All-Nighter. When prescribed and used appropriately, these medications can be very helpful and safe for the conditions that they treat, but they are also at risk for misuse and diversion in the college population.

Autism Spectrum Disorders are most often identified in early childhood. For information, visit NIMH Autism Spectrum Disorder. For those diagnosed with ASD, for best success, we encourage planning for college transitions as early as the late middle school years and reviewing a transition guide. There are also helpful descriptions on transitioning to college at Asperger/Autism Network, found by typing “college” in the search box.

Personality Disorders are patterns of emotions, thinking and acting that keep recurring and keep causing problems for an individual. Personality Disorders endure through the lifespan. Because college students are often still developing, it may be rare to have a firmly established Personality Disorder. However, there may have been plenty of time to develop undesirable personality traits. Through the hard work of psychotherapy and, at times, medications for co-occurring conditions, the college years are a prime time for these problematic personality traits improve so that personality disorders don’t develop in the future. Personality Traits are divided into 3 clusters described here: What are Personality Disorders?. In the Cluster B traits, many college students worry about Borderline or Narcissistic Traits, and in the Cluster C group, avoidant, dependent or obsessive-compulsive can feature. Note that Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) is very different from OCD.

Psychosis can occur in a wide range of conditions, like untreated Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, personality disorders, substance use disorders and even trauma. People experiencing psychosis are more vulnerable to being victims of harm or aggression, contrary to myths about psychosis. To learn more about psychosis, refer to Understanding Psychosis and for schizophrenia, visit What is Schizophrenia?.

Many college students have difficulties with sleep, given intense schedules, overlapping deadlines and stress from academics, and often family and relationship issues. Research indicates that adequate sleep is important for learning, lowering stress, averting depression and even maintaining a healthy weight.

This Refresh 8-week self-study program can help you get your sleep back on track. This is a program that is meant to be done one unit per week. Weekly reading takes about 10-15 minutes and daily monitoring of sleep is done via a 30-second sleep diary. You can do this on your own, and your provider can help guide you through the program as well.

Please do not distribute without permission by the authors, Mickey Trockel MD, PhD and Rachel Manber PhD.