Withdrawing from college due to depression

In this blog we will discuss if it is possible to withdraw from college due to depression, whether one should do it, and how one can withdraw from college for depression. 

Withdrawing from college due to depression: How to do it?

If one is experiencing symptoms of depression that is getting in the way of college performance, it is possible for an individual to withdraw from college due to depression by taking an extended leave of absence. 

If you find yourself struggling with depression to the point where you are experiencing dysfunction in terms of your academics as well as your social life- on self-observation or observations made by peers and teachers- it is advised that you take a step back and take stock of your well-being. 

Most colleges and institutions are prepared for such scenarios where their students have to take leave- for health reasons or family emergencies etc.

It is most probably the case that they should typically have policies regarding student leave for health and illnesses. 

However, it has to be mentioned that leave related to mental health issues could be a debate depending on how the college prioritizes mental well being. 

Mental health conditions like depression do fall under the disabilities act for most counties, so it is very likely that they will have policies related to mental health leave.

What you can do if you plan to withdraw from college due to depression. Speaking to the student counselor or the Dean of students could be the best way to figure out these policies in a way that does not overwhelm you. 

During this conversation with the dean or the student counselor, you should make it a point to understand the following:

  • Procedural and financial information that may affect your re-enrollment.
  • Finding out the processes involved with the before, during, and after your Leave, as there may be important paperwork, deadlines, and conditions you must satisfy before you may return.
  • Discussing with your professors and counselor about how you can meet your academic requirements; this will require cooperation and collaboration between you and your teachers.
  • Get the paper works ready, get assessments done by a professional if required, and decide on a timeline to meet your academic deadlines, all of which should be discussed in collaboration with your student counselor. 
  • Another important option you can consider is in-campus or off-campus treatment which may involve you being a part-time student. To make a decision related to this option and before seeking out any professional help, it is vital that you speak with the student counselor/ dean of students to work out the policies of the school. 

Withdrawing from college due to depression: Should you do it?

If the severity of your symptoms related to depression makes you unable to deal with the demands of your academics or that college itself is aggravating your symptoms, you should consider taking a leave. 

It is advisable for you to seek out a professional to assess your psychological situation and collaborate with the student counselor or dean of students for a possible leave of absence for you to cope and recover.

Let us take a look at some of the signs and symptoms you might be experiencing that might indicate that you need some time off.

You should consider taking leave or time off from school if:

  • Behavior and personality changes. For example, if you were extremely outgoing and a go-getter and suddenly become more reserved, less motivated, unable to keep up with school work. 
  • Extremely low moods and anxiety
  • Begins isolating themselves from your friends and family.  
  • Unable to focus with school work
  • Easily irritated and frustrated to the point that you hurt yourself or other people. 
  • Thoughts about suicide and death
  • Physical changes and aches and pains.
  • Change in appetite and sleep

Other reasons why you should consider taking a break from school could include:

  • Traumatic events
  • Death and loss
  • Anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of exams and studying
  • Parental divorce
  • Terminally ill patients in the family

All of these reasons could bring immense stress on a student which can only cause their mental health to deteriorate if not dealt with. 

You have to remember that taking time off, though helpful, will not magically change your life nor will it heal your depression. 

As part of taking time out, you should also make small changes in your daily routine that can help you cope with the stressors in your life on the days you’re not taking off like taking breaks, eating healthy, paying attention to signs of fatigue and negative thought patterns. 

In order for you to have the best experience possible, it is important to take the time you need to focus on yourself and your mental health recovery.

How to take care of your mental health after withdrawing from college due to depression?

Here are some of the things that you can do to take care of your mental health after withdrawing from college due to depression:

Seek out  professional help

If you have been depressed for more than two weeks and it is impacting your other relationships and your professional life, we advise you to seek out professional help immediately.

Depression is not just low moods, it won’t simply “go away”. There needs to be an active effort to work through your condition as well as pharmacological support that you might need in the case there are neurological causes to your condition. 

Talking to a therapist and engaging with them to understand what is happening to you does not mean that you have failed in life. It simply means that you need help like everyone else and that does not make you any less of a person. 

Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.

Understanding your condition, diagnosis and Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will help you during this difficult time. 

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

Focus On Recovery

In order for you to have the best experience possible, it is important to take the time you need to focus on yourself and your mental health.

So if you get yourself in therapy, make sure that you take the suggestions of your therapist to try out the strategies they mentioned or do the homework they have given.

If you are on medication, make sure that you are honest with yourself as you take the doses instead of missing them or avoiding them. 

Be diligent with your sessions as well and be mindful of any resistance you might be feeling and take courage to discuss it with your therapist. 

Let this time be focused on your health and mental health, throw yourself into the recovery process instead of getting sidetracked with school stress. 

Unplug from college activities

You’ve taken time off to focus on your mental health, so turn off your notifications from school, your school emails, and set aside your books. 

A digital detox can be helpful so consider spending time away from screens all together. Work from school can be a source of stress, so keep it distant while you take the day to feel more like yourself again. 

Focus on self-care

Instead of distracting yourself with someone else or something else- like gaming, drinking, gambling etc- you could choose to care for yourself. 

While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things. 

It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward. 

Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first. 

You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself. 

Join a support group

Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of people struggling with depression so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other. 

It is possible that people with depression can also struggle with a sense of worthlessness, a feeling that you have nothing of value to offer. 

By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey. 

Connect with loved ones

Once you feel like you are up for it, take time to seek out support from your friends, family, and loved ones. Positive relationships are also important for wellbeing. 

Talk to them about how you are feeling, allow them to get distracted while doing fun things together. Let them provide you company when you do not want to be alone- take effort to reach out to them. 

Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships. 


In this blog we will discuss if it is possible to withdraw from college due to depression, whether one should do it, and how one can withdraw from college for depression. 

FAQ related to withdrawing from college due to depression

What happens if you withdraw from college?

When you withdraw from college, dep[ending on college policy you may be eligible for a partial refund of your tuition if you have been keeping up with classes and grades and your reason for leaving is legit. 

Is it normal to have a mental breakdown in college?

It is common for college students to go through a mental breakdown due to the stress of college, the changes that are occurring in their social life, their world views, and the views they have for themselves.  

It is common but it does not mean that it is normal in the sense that it can be swept under the rug or brushed off. In the case of a mental breakdown, it is advised that one seeks professional and medical care. 


Student Instructions For Pursuing A Mental Health Withdrawal. Colonial health Center. Retrieved on 31st March 2022, https://healthcenter.gwu.edu/sites/g/files/zaxdzs1216/f/MHWD%20Instructions%2C%20ROI%20and%20Self%20Assessment%206%2027%2017%20FINAL.pdf

Withdrawal process allows students time to treat mental health. Retrieved on 31st march 2022. https://dailyillini.com/news-stories/2017/03/06/withdrawal-process-allows-students-time-treat-mental-health/

Withdrawal for Medical/Mental Health Reasons. LCCC. Retrieved on 31st march 2022. https://www.lccc.edu/current-students/student-records-registration/withdrawal-for-medical-mental-health-reasons

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