Depression increases among college students

By Danielle Feole
September 27, 2007


Depression can be characterized by the symptoms of sadness, anxiety, decreased energy and loss of interest in usual activities. Studies show that over the past five years there has been an increase in depression amongst college students.

According to Psychology Today, “College counseling centers used to be the backwaters of the mental health care system, now they are the front line.”

Massachusetts General Hospital has confirmed that in many cases these mental problems have been with the student in earlier years.

According to Robert Gallagher of the University of Pittsburgh, his 2001 survey of counseling centers shows that 85 percent of colleges reported an increase during the past five years in students with severe psychological problems.

What are the main causes for depression in a college student’s life? Depression can range anywhere from psychological causes to physical causes.

Psychological causes are losses, break-ups, feelings of loneliness or academic problems. Physical causes can also occur with illness or chemical imbalances. College students are given many new responsibilities and have to therefore take on much more new stressors coming into a new environment.

Dr. Melissa Terlecki, a psychology professor, said, “College is a tumultuous time, leaving home, friends and relationships. Circumstances may trigger the depression or illness that was already there through adolescence.”

Dr. Byrony Kay, a psychology professor, said, “It depends on a student’s coping mechanisms. Some students have more adaptive coping mechanisms than others.”

College students are entering a transition period. They are changing from the high school students they were and becoming adults who are branching off to different colleges, usually in different areas, in or out-of-state.

Students are then forced to think about their future and what they would like to become. College makes students realize that the future is not as far away as they thought and they need to do well and succeed to obtain their future goals.

Joe Johnson, a junior history and political science major, said, “Freshman year a lot of people are caught up in high school standards when first arriving, they feel they need to conform to be accepted.”

Sara Maggitti, Psy.D., the director of Counseling Services, said, “Research on Cabrini College health has found that approximately 10 percent of students overall have been diagnosed with depression.”

Depression is more common in women than in men. When depression is not treated it can often lead to suicide, which is more common in college-aged students.

According to USA Today, about 30 percent of colleges report one suicide in the previous year.

Students feeling any signs of depression should talk to someone right away, such as someone they feel comfortable with, a psychology professor on campus, health counseling services or even an actual psychologist.

Cabrini’s main Web page contains a link to counseling services, which gives tons of information and links to resources of mental illnesses. Also, students are encouraged to come into their office for a self evaluation.

Cabrini has three licensed mental health professionals and one consulting psychiatrist, who will work with troubled students. They provide free and completely confidential counseling.

Cabrini’s counseling services will be holding free screenings for depression for National Depression Screening Day on Thursday, Oct. 4th from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. outside of Founder’s Hall.

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Danielle Feole

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