Student depression on the rise

25% who use campus health services show symptoms of clinical depression


A quarter of students who visit university health clinics display symptoms of clinical depression, and 10 per cent report having suicidal thoughts, according to a report recently published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Researchers from the Universities of Washington and Wisconsin and the University of British Columbia surveyed 1,600 students who had visited campus health services.

While the students were initially complaining of non-psychological symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, approximately 25 per cent agreed with statements such as “I feel sad all of the time.” Ten per cent said they had had suicidal thoughts in recent weeks. “The fact that we have one in four of our university students who go to these clinics who actually scores in the ranges for clinical depression suggests there are a lot of distressed young people out there that we’re not providing help for,” one of the study’s authors says.

Possible explanations include the reality that a university education does not necessarily lead to stable employment, and baby boomer parents who have sheltered their children. “Because of the more sheltered lives they’ve led, they have fewer coping skills,” a University of Calgary education professor says.

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Student depression on the rise

  1. It’s interesting that the study notes depression was strongly linked with dating violence and emotional abuse, (as well as smoking). Could it be that the sexual revolution is not as liberating as once thought, but in fact leads to objectification of women and their consequent loss of self in the idea that they’re empowered by making themselves available for men’s physical needs? Perhaps it’s the desire for intimacy, love and personal value at a deeper level that is making so many so sad.

  2. For my part, I currently feel that any student with symptoms of depression should STAY AWAY from university health services, which appear to be poorly equipped to be on the front lines of the evaluation and treatment of depression. I would urge such students to seek help within the community from their local hospital, their family doctor, or their province’s mental health association which can refer them to appropriate counseling and resources. There seems to be an unwritten belief that students’ emotions are underdeveloped, volatile and subject to rapid fluctuations or swings as a part of the maturation process. In my opinion, this belief in students’ emotional immaturity is an impediment to students getting the prompt and nonjudgmental intervention they need in a depressive crisis. Depression can be treated with medication and specialized counseling techniques, but the biggest hurdle appears to be getting a correct and timely diagnosis of the illness in the first place. It appears from this study that university health services are lacking in their diagnosis and treatment of depressive illness, and university health services would do well to begin asking themselves why this is the case, beginning with an exploration of their existing attitudes toward the student patient reporting symptoms of depression.

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  4. Pingback: Depression: Giving therapy and neuroplasticity help, science proves | Wake Up Joy

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