Term paper 1
Depression and anxiety in college students
Name: Siddhanth Rao
Matrikel Number: 407346
Course: Introduction to Psychology
The period of college or university is crucial in the life of every individual as several life-altering psychological conditions are faced by the individual during this period. It was established that, depression and anxiety are prevalent problems in the universities and colleges across the world and can have serious consequences in the academic and personal life of the students (Davies et al., 2014). The topic of the paper is of special interest to me because I have personally suffered from the consequences of depression and having a better understanding will help me combat with the depression in an organized way.
The paper aims to list down the possible causes of depression and anxiety in the students by summarizing the results of various surveys and experimental studies. All the surveys were conducted on a diverse group of students in a particular age range with measurement parameter on the scales as DASS (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale) and MASS (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) (Beiter et al., 2015; ?erneti?, 2016; Iqbal et al., 2015).The surveys confirmed that, there has been a significant rise in the number of students who are affected by depression and anxiety in the recent years. The results of the surveys also enlist some of the major causes as academic performance, family history of depression, post-graduate studies, physical disabilities and exposure to new lifestyle away from home (Beiter et al., 2015; Arslan et al., 2009).
The results of the studies suggest that the enlisted causes could help the universities and counselling centres to tailor their remedies according to the particular cause of depression or anxiety (Beiter et al., 2015). One of the studies also suggest the use of computer-delivered and web-based interventions to reduce the depression and anxiety among the students (Davies et al., 2014).
Depression is a state of mind in which a person goes through sadness causing interruption in the thought process of an individual and emotional response (Sharma & Pandey, 2017). In the life of an average human today, depression and anxiety have become a prevailing part. Depression has grave consequences in the mental and psychological health of a person and it can be apparently seen in people from varying walks of life.
During the period of college, an individual undergoes life-altering changes and experiences many things for the first time such as new cultures, ways of thinking and friends (WWW1). For this reason, the period of college is vital for the mental and social health of the person for the further life (Arslan et al., 2009). Depression is associated with disturbing attitude which has serious health consequences in students due to indulging themselves in smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep habits and have a worst quality of life. Also, this is the cause of concern for the universities as the academic performance and further career opportunities of the students is impacted by depression and anxiety (Davies et al., 2014; Arslan et al., 2009; Beiter et al., 2015). The universities and peers could be the first point of contact for the affected students. Due to these reasons, investigating and understanding the potential psychological causes has become very important for the universities and psychological counselling centres to offer better remedies to specific needs of students to counter depression and anxiety (Beiter et al., 2015).
The topic of the paper interests me personally because I have experienced the aftermaths of depression and also see a lot of people going through anxiety and depression in daily life. For this reason, I want to explore and have a better understanding about the causes of anxiety and depression experienced by university students. The assessment of these causes was majorly performed with the help of surveys and self-reports which reviewed the students for their mental health.
Experimental study and surveys:
The assessed group of students were from different backgrounds in different reference articles with different methods of assessment of parameters like DASS (Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale) and MASS (Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) (Beiter et al., 2015; ?erneti?, 2016; Iqbal et al., 2015). Taking into account all the above important factors some of the important experiments are explained in this paper.
Survey no. 1: In the survey conducted (Beiter et al., 2015), the participants were students of Franciscan University who were chosen using convenience sampling. The students were within the age group of 18 to 24 and the sample size was embodiment of overall Franciscan University students. The study was primarily conducted in two parts. In the first part, a 21 question version of DASS survey was included. “The purpose of the questions is to assess the severity of the core symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress”, while “the second portion of the survey consisted of a series of common stressors that were deemed to be pertinent to college students in prior research” (Beiter et al., 2015).
The results of the survey was observed for stress, anxiety and depression in varying proportions indicated by normal, mild, moderate, severe and extremely severe (Figure 1). The main sources of concern for students were “academic performance, pressure to succeed, post-graduation plans, financial concerns, quality of sleep, relationship with friends, relationship with family, overall health, body image and self-esteem” (Beiter et al., 2015) (Figure 2).
The survey mainly aimed at narrowing down the main caused of depression specific to students at the university. The studies also indicated some of the student groups are more vulnerable to anxiety and depression than other groups (for example the off-campus students, transfer students and upper-class students) (Beiter et al., 2015).
Survey no. 2: The presence of stress, anxiety and depression was examined among medical undergraduate students (Iqbal et al., 2015). This assessment was performed using Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS 42) and to recognize the stressors which can affect the well-being of the medical students. The survey was conducted through ” a cross-sectional survey, a self-administered, pre-designed, pre-tested anonymous questionnaire including DASS 42 was used to collect information on basic socio-demographic (age, gender, semester) and personal characteristics (alcohol and tobacco use, academic performance)” (Iqbal et al., 2015).
The results depicted an astonishing more than half percentage of the students affected by stress, anxiety and depression. Also this study fuelled the need to address the neglected issue of student’s psychology because the results highlighted the causes of stress, anxiety and depression in students. In the results of the survey it was reported that the students of fifth semester and the female students are the most vulnerable group among the medical students which was consistent with the results of the previous studies. However one finding which was contrary to the findings of previous studies was that alcohol and tobacco consumption was not associated with any morbidity. The anxiety and depression in medical students may also have a negative impact on safety of patients and quality of patient care. Thus, the article further emphasizes on the need to have counselling services made available to the students of the medical colleges (Iqbal et al., 2015)
Survey no. 3: The survey was conducted to evaluate the risk factors connected to depression and evaluate the effects on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among the group of students in the students of a Turkish university (Arslan et al., 2009). The questionnaire for study was made up of three main parts. The first part consisted of demographic and medical characteristics while the second part consisted of evaluation on status and prevalence of depression. The third part was used to determine HRQoL of the students through Medical Outcomes study form (Arslan et al., 2009). The participants were randomly selected from the schools of engineering and architecture, science and literature and economics with an average age of around 21 years. The study was conducted with proper permissions and BMI was measured for each participating student (Arslan et al., 2009). The results depicted that almost 22% which can be seen as one in five participating students suffered from depression. One of the beliefs was that depression is less prevailing in smokers as nicotine helps to mitigate the stress. However the results were contradicting to this belief as it showed higher level of depression in smokers than non-smokers. “In the study, it was found that the HRQoL of students with depression was worse than for those without. According to the SF-36 scale, their HRQoL was seen to have been affected negatively in all the domains” (Arslan et al., 2009).
Experimental study: The study was performed for analysis of Web-based and computer-delivered interventions to improve symptoms relating to depression, anxiety and stress in university students (Davies et al., 2014). Computer delivered and web based interventions can be tailored to meet the individual requirements and hence can be effectively used to treat stress and depression in university students.
The search terms for the development electronic databases of search methodology was obtained through literature review. The next step was data extraction and assessment through intervention of human contact. In the last step, “Meta-analyses were planned to explore the effects of interventions upon depression, anxiety, stress, and psychological distress related outcomes. Cochrane Collaboration risk of bias tool was used to assess study quality” (Davies et al., 2014). In 11 out of total 17 trials conducted, the participants were screened for particular situations of mental health and psychological factors. The majority interventions were website delivered. Besides that the remaining were based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) (Davies et al., 2014). The results supported the hypothesis that Web-based and computer-delivered interventions can be used to improve symptoms relating to depression, anxiety and stress in university students.
As a result of findings from various surveys and studies it can be presumed that a large percentage of student population in colleges and universities suffer from depression and anxiety. The prominent reasons for it could be academic performance, family history of depression, post-graduate studies, physical disabilities and exposure to new lifestyle away from home (Beiter et al., 2015; Arslan et al., 2009). The results of the surveys could help the psychological counselling centres of the universities to narrow down their focus to specific points and implement a systematic and continuous psychological- health related programs which might be applicable to many students worldwide. As mentioned by Davies et al., (2014), a further possibility exists to use computer based applications to mitigate stress. This could prove very effective as a large population of students in the colleges are connected by digital technologies.
Further research and work could be done to avoid the occurrences of anxiety and depression in youth by educating and counselling the students during their schooling. The causes stated in the aforementioned work could be used as guidelines to educate the school children and can be used by universities to plan necessary actions so that the occurrences of stress and depression is reduced in future. The future trials could also include methods to reduce the impact of depression among the affected students so that recovery time is as less as possible.
Arslan, G., Ayranci, U., Unsal, A., ; Arslantas, D. (2009). Prevalence of depression, its correlates among students, and its effect on health-related quality of life in a Turkish university. Upsala Journal of Medical Sciences, 114(3), 170-177.
Beiter, R., Nash, R., McCrady, M., Rhoades, D., Linscomb, M., Clarahan, M., ; Sammut, S. (2015). The prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and stress in a sample of college students. Journal of affective disorders, 173, 90-96.
?erneti?, M. (2016). The relationship between anxiety and mindfulness: The role of mindfulness facets, implicit anxiety, and the problem of measuring anxiety by self-report. Psihologija, 49(2), 169-183.
Davies, E. B., Morriss, R., ; Glazebrook, C. (2014). Computer-delivered and web-based interventions to improve depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being of university students: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of medical Internet research.
Iqbal, S., Gupta, S., ; Venkatarao, E. (2015). Stress, anxiety ; depression among medical undergraduate students ; their socio-demographic correlates. The Indian journal of medical research, 141(3), 354.
Sharma, G., ; Pandey, D. (2017). Anxiety, Depression, and Stress in Relation to Academic Achievement among Higher Secondary School Students. The International Journal of Indian Psychology, Volume 4, Issue 2, No. 87, 82.
WWW1. Psychcentral. Accessed June 05, 2018.
Figure 1: The proportion of participants whose answers on DASS 21 indicated a normal, mild, moderate, severe and extremely severe amount of stress (A), Anxiety (B) and Depression (C). Figure and caption from (Beiter et al., 2015).
Fig. 2. The top 10 sources of concern based on percentage of participants answering “moderately” or “extremely” to each question. Figure and caption from (Beiter et al., 2015).