The Reality of Senioritis

Second semester beginning can bring with it seniors’ grades dropping, interest in activities decreasing, and procrastination increasing— all symptoms of what is considered a mythical illness called “senioritis.” But there might be a more critical reality to senioritis than we previously thought.

Senioritis supposedly sums up the lack of motivation towards academic studies that seniors in high school experience as they finish their last year. As graduation and plans for after high school such as college nears, this apathy towards school can result in incomplete assignments, lower grades, and more absences.

“It is really hard as a senior just to get by in the last six months just because of burnout, and we’ve been doing it for the last four years,” said senior Joseph Nguyen. “Usually, I would try to make time to do homework but now doing the most simple assignments seems so hard.”

Often seen as trivial or humorous, senioritis is acknowledged by teachers, parents, counselors, and even some students as a convenient excuse for high school seniors to be lazy and slack off for their last semester of high school.

“We know that senioritis is an observable phenomenon among some high school and college students during the second semester of their senior year,” said an article from, “but it is not a recognized medical condition or mental health disorder. Some people think that senioritis is a convenient, made-up excuse for laziness.”

However, the possible consequences of senioritis can be severe.

“Students might self-diagnose themselves with senioritis when they have a more serious mental health condition. The lack of motivation to get out of bed and go to class, for example, may sometimes be indicative of a depressive disorder,” said a blog from Grand Canyon University.

Should senioritis be taken more seriously as a mental health issue?

“I think that depression certainly plays a role in senioritis. As the year comes to an end, people are worrying about the future and about where their current friendships are going to go. That stress turns you away from schools and studies,” said senior Angela Miller. “I haven’t experienced it myself, but I feel like senioritis is something that happens a lot in the Jesuit community,” said senior Angela Miller.

In an article published on the Stanford Daily, a student compares their symptoms of clinical depression to those associated with senioritis, saying the two cases are “disturbingly similar.”

Senioritis is not only categorized by indifference towards school but also by low energy levels, miserable and moody emotional states, severe procrastination, irregular sleep schedules or insomnia, and lack of focus.

These symptoms can also be an indication for depression. So is it senioritis, or something more serious?

There are many reasons for mistaking depression and serious mental illnesses for senioritis.

For one, the surge of senioritis cases after winter break and at the start of second semester coincides with the seasonal change. The shift in weather patterns can bring about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during specific seasons or time periods throughout the year.

With symptoms of irritability, drastic mood changes, and an increase in negative emotions, winter-pattern SAD is common among seniors and can be easily mistaken for senioritis.

Another reason senioritis and depression are commonly mistaken is because of the most common symptom for both cases: lack of motivation. However, if a lack of motivation is paired with or caused by obsessive negative thoughts that derive from feelings of self-hatred or self-destruction, then it is an indication of depression.

“They are negative thoughts that their brain will focus on or obsess over until their mood plummets. Senioritis is something normal that a lot of teens experience, but it shouldn’t be causing them to have sad or negative thoughts,” said Courtney Glashow, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in helping teens and adults with depression.

Senioritis and depression share some similarities on the surface level. However, this makes it easy to dismiss cases of depression or other mental issues and mislabel them as senioritis. Ignoring or downplaying mental illnesses can have serious consequences as the illnesses are not being treated, which can often cause the illness to amplify.

It is important to be able to differentiate between senioritis and depression, as well as understand the causes and consequences of both afflictions, in order to effectively treat the mental health of high schoolers.