Depression and its Negative Effect on College Students

Tiana Keith, East Carolina University

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Abstract Rates of depression in college students are at an all time high. Millions of emerging adults are experiencing symptoms that are making daily routines problematic. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to, drowsiness, loss of appetite, sense of hopelessness, apathy, and irritability. Long periods of suffering through such feelings are non-conducive to dealing with the demands of college life. The causes of depression are as unique as the individual that experiences the disorder. For many students, however, depression can be attributed to stressors such as academic pressure, inadequate social adaptation, inadequate sleep, and the stress of the overall transition to college life. Reports show an inequality of depressive symptoms experienced by male and female students for unknown reasons, but assumptions have been made. Students who suffer from depression risk serious health problems if positive steps are not made to help with their symptoms. It is not uncommon for the traditional student age group to resort to substance abuse and other risky behaviors to escape depressive symptoms. In many cases students experience eating disorders, and others choose suicide. With an increasing demand for positive coping mechanisms, universities have made an effort to offer free psychological services to students on their campuses. Although attempts have been made, students are underutilizing the resources. Students and universities must work together to provide an effective way to reduce depression in college students. 

Introduction More than 18 million adults, almost a tenth of the United States population above the age of 17, have been found to demonstrate symptoms of a depressive disorder each year (Rosack, 2003). Depression is defined as a state of intense sadness or despair that has progressed to a level that is troublesome to an individual’s social functioning and the basic activities of daily living. Many people understand the feelings associated with depression as “lacking motivation to get through the day” or “feeling sad and lonely for no obvious reason.” Common feelings of depression may include but are not limited to irritability, fatigue, apathy, and sadness. When these feelings become stronger and more consistent, substance abuse and risky sexual behavior tend to become outlets for young adults who experience frequent low feelings (Swanholm, Vosvick, & Chng, 2009).

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