Depression on the rise among college students

By Christine Graf
April 10, 2008

MCT Campus/ Tallahassee Democrat 2003

Sadness, irritability, frequent crying, loss of interest in activities, lack of motivation, fatigue and even thoughts of suicide are some emotions that flood the minds of college students suffering from depression.

According to a recent survey by the American College Health Association, 15 percent of college students were formally diagnosed with depression in 2004, up from 10 percent four years ago.

Sara Maggitti, director of counseling services at Cabrini College, has worked on the college campus for the last eight years and while she has not seen “an increase in the prevalence of depression,” she has seen “a steady increase in the number of students who utilize campus counseling centers for a variety of reasons, most commonly depression.”

“Depression should be treated when it causes a prolonged, greater than two week, disruption in one’s everyday functioning, their academic and social functioning and relationships,” Maggitti said.

Twenty-five percent of the students seen at Cabrini College Counseling services were seen for depression last year, which was 32 of the 128 students who utilized Cabrini College’s free counseling services.

Cabrini also has started an organization called Active Minds, which promotes mental health awareness among college students.

“College students have a lot of pressure to do well in school, to keep healthy relationships with friends, family and significant others and to be well accepted socially,” Cristin Joy, a freshman education major and also the vice president of Active Minds, said.

“It is important for students to know that there is help nearby and that it is okay to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Students need to know that they are not alone and it is necessary that they take advantage of the services offered on-campus.”

Maggitti explains there are many different reasons for depression. The top one is family history because there is a strong genetic connection. Another reason could be a specific cause such as financial worries, academic difficulties and grief from losing a loved one. Medication and medical conditions can also cause symptoms of depression. Lastly, depression can occur for no particular reason at all.

“This [the different causes of depression] is why it is important for a mental health professional or physician to evaluate the individual to identify these various factors,” Maggitti said.

“As vice president of Active Minds, I hope that students realize that the purpose of this organization is to solely promote awareness about mental health issues, help identify symptoms of mental illness and direct students to available resources on campus and in the community,” Joy said.

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Christine Graf

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