Depression and its Effects on University Students

Group Members: Sean, Shagana, Rahul, McKaela, Aliia

Causes

Social

Going from high school to university can be a very intimidating experience with new settings, rules, and people. York University has around 20,000 students alone with a good percentage being early year students who might or might not have gone to school previously with other students. This can a difficult time for students because it might be hard to meet new people. This could lead to isolation and feelings of loneliness for first year students who live on residence. Even the pressure from parents to make sure that their child gets the best grades can put a lot of emotional strain on students and sometimes “the grade average of first-year students in university is 65 percent, which suggest that that over half the student population is achieving lower grades than they did in high school” (Wintre & Yaffe, 2000). These could give rise to the behavior of depression. Even rising tuition costs and student debt have had an impact on university student’s depression rates, “Studies that document the mental health crisis in universities across North America suggest that increased financial burden my also be a cause of depression…” (Flatt, 2013).

Environmental

Knowing how competitive the job market is these days causes a lot of academic pressure to achieve high grades and to outperform other students. This is a more major issue for forth year students, which is causing them to either continue their education into a master’s program or grad school while getting into more debt or faces the odds of the job market (Flatt, 2013). Some students have to adjust to see new faces when entering university and some even have to live with people they have never met. Hilary Silver, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health expert, said “students experience many firsts, including new lifestyle, friends, roommates, exposure to new cultures and alternate ways of thinking” (Tartakovsky, 2008). When the students cant handle all these new experiences, they can become susceptible to depression.

Personal

There is also some evidence from the video above that shows a familial connection for depression. If you parents had depression, you are more likely to get it then someone whose parents were never depressed. If the proper support systems are not in place, a student that has a predisposition to depression can easily fall into a spiral which can damage their academic career. Not having enough self-esteem and self-efficacy also play a role in student depression. Students need to be able to believe that they can succeed as long as they put in effort; this is done early on in the family household. Even if they fail a test or an assignment, it does not mean the end of the world; it just means that they need to try a different technique for managing classes.

References

Brown, G. & Moffit, M. (creators & writers). (2014, August 19). The science of depression. Video Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com

Flatt, A. K. (2013). A suffering generation: Six factors contributing to the mental health crisis in north american higher education. College Quarterly, 16(1). Retrieved from http://www.collegequarterly.ca/2013-vol16-num01-winter/flatt.html

Shalhoub, J. (creator). (2015, February 23). What it’s like living with depression. Video Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com

Tartakovsky, M. (2008). Depression and anxiety among college students. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-and-anxiety-among-college-students/0001425?all=1

Wintre, M. G., & Yaffe, M. (2000). First-year students' adjustment to university life as a function of relationships with parents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15(1), 9-37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0743558400151002

Symptoms

Effects

Grades

The Impact of Depression on the Academic Productivity of University Students

This article is a study that discusses the effects of depression in students on their academic productivity. Authors Hysenbegasi, Hass, and Rowland all have their Ph.D degrees and were members of Global Outcomes Research unit of the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, from whom they received funding for this study. The students grade point averages were used to determine their academic productivity; lower academic productivity displays reduction in information absorbed while learning as well as a reduction in ability to display their learning, such as test taking. This study investigates undergraduate students on Western Michigan University, looking at variables such as when they started experiencing depressed symptoms, living situations, and employment while in school. The results revealed that there is little relation between depression and academic performance. This result, although surprising, is supportable by the idea that students might be using academic work as a means of escape from the depression.

Social Interactions

The Effects of Depression on Leisure

This article is a study that discusses the effects of depression on their leisure or social interactions. The authors Blanco and Barnett are both affiliates of the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois. Anhedonia, a term used to describe the inability to experience pleasure from generally positive and pleasing experiences and activities, is a result of depression. As the severity of depression increases in a student, as does the severity of anhedonia. A type of anhedonia known as social anhedonia refers to the little interest or enjoyment in social interactions. Because of the stigma towards depression and mental health, some students will deny the depression which will only make it worse. This study compared 974 college students in the United States of America, looking at enjoyment, participation, and desired sociability and outcomes for leisure activities. Results showed that it only took a mild level of depression to reduce the level of importance and enjoyment of leisure activities. It is interesting to note that all groups, depressed or not, desired the same outcomes from leisure activities, but the depressed group consistently had lower levels of enjoyment and desire for social interactions.

Alcohol and Substance Use

Comorbidity of Alcohol Abuse and Depression: Exploring the Self-Medication Hypothesis

This article is a dissertation that discusses the comorbidity or relation between depression and the use of alcohol or other substances to prove the self-medication theory. The author Robinson wrote this for the fulfillment of his Ph.D requirements. The self-medication theory proposes that when one is experiencing mental distress that can be alleviated through prescribed medication, in the absence of such medication, one will instead choose to self-medicate, resorting to alcohol or other substances to cope. Studies show that individuals with both alcohol-related disorders and depression, it was found that the depression preceded the alcohol-related disorders. Because drinking is popular in college and university, it is often the go to method of self-medication; sometimes the alcohol and substance abuse is the cause of depression.

Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts

Depression and Suicide Among College Students

This article is a study that discusses depression and suicide, comparing depressed students that attempted suicide, depressed students that did not attempt suicide, and students that only felt depressed. A questionnaire completed by 962 university students from three different colleges/universities reveals that a staggering 777 of these students have been experiencing depression, from reasons such as low grades, relationships issues, loneliness, and financial issues. Among several other factors, all students that have attempted suicide claimed that they were experiencing depression. Of the 777 students, only a mere 35 went for counselling. When comparing attempters to nonattempters, the students that attempted suicide had a significantly higher level of hopelessness and parental issues than the students that did not attempt suicide; attempters were more likely to seek out counselling as well. It is worthy to note that many of the students that attempted suicide had their attempts occur before going to college/university. Also, the term depression may not correct in some cases as the students may not have been clinically diagnosed, but self-diagnosed.

References

Barnett, L., & Blanco, J. (2014). The effects of depression on leisure: Varying relationships between enjoyment, sociability, participation, and desired outcomes in college students. doi: 10.1080/01490400.2014.915772

Furr, S.R., & Westefeld, J.S. (1987). Suicide and depression among college students. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/614321028/fulltextPDF/BA82EF40EAC6443CPQ/1?accountid=15182

Hass, S.L., Hysenbegasi, A., & Rowland, C.R. (2005). The impact of depression on the academic productivity of university students. Retrieved from http://www.icmpe.org/test1/journal/issues/v8pdf/8-145_text.pdf

Robinson, R. (2007). Comorbidity of alcohol abuse and depression: Exploring the self-medication hypothesis. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/304859459/573EFD46ED934BA7PQ/accountid=15182

Treatments

General Knowledge

Bartha is a University of Toronto graduate with a Masters of Social Work and ten years of experience in the field of social work. She has authored many books and is the Executive Director of the Underserved Population Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. This information guide provides a brief overview on depression, its causes, treatments, and methods for recovery and dealing with relapse. It discusses these topics with a family orientation and includes two chapters regarding help for families and how to explain depression to children. One type of treatment that is included and examined in chapter three is the psychosocial interventions in terms of family interventions, self-help organizations and therapist-client discussions that teach the mentally ill to “relieve stress by discussing and expressing feelings” (Bartha 17) to break damaging behaviour and attitude habits and promote healthier ones. Also included are the biological treatments which constitute medication such as antidepressants and the different classes of new and old drugs available. This source includes helpful additions such as sections that answer frequently asked questions regarding the material covered in the chapter and a glossary of terms in the back. This handbook compared to the other articles collected regarding treatments of depression has no thesis, scholarly content, or arguments but rather a more family friendly, informative guide with easy to understand language that would be directed to the general public rather than the academic community. This source would be beneficial for families with little to no prior knowledge of depression or mental illness and are looking for a starting point for recovery for either themselves or loved ones and would specifically be useful for concerned families of university students in which the students are independent and not open with their illness.

Self Help

Day is a Dalhousie and Queens University graduate with a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. in Psychology and Clinical Psychology and is part of the Counselling Centre for stress, anger, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. McGrath is also a Queens University graduate with a Ph.D. in Clinical psychology, has authored over 14 books and is a Professor of Psychology in Dalhousie University. Wojtowicz is a Dalhousie and Toronto University graduate with an Honors Bachelor of Science and a Ph.D. in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience and is a Clinical and Research Fellow in the Departments of Psychiatry and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. Collectively, these authors have put together a clinical trial that allows university students to seek self-help through an internet program for depression, anxiety and stress where the students would not usually seek help from a professional due to embarrassment, skepticism, or stigma or are unable to due to treatment cost, convenience, or resources available. There were two groups of studies done, an immediate access group and delayed access group. The students recruited for the Immediate-Access Group – in which the students started the trial straightaway – had approximately six weeks to complete the 5 core module program whereas the students recruited for the Delayed-Access Group – in which the students started the trial were asked to wait six weeks to begin – had approximately six months to complete the trial. The five core modules that were expected to be completed in order to complete the program focused on an Introduction, where students were introduced to the program as well as types of emotional distress; the second module focused more on activity and mood; the third module focused on motivation by building motivation for change; the fourth module discusses thoughts and feelings in terms of how the first affects the latter and how to identify disrupting thoughts; the fifth and final mandatory module expands on persistent and challenging thoughts and how to overcome them. There are six other optional modules that range from social relations to specified Premenstrual syndrome and its effects on mood. This clinical trial is beneficial for university students who may not have the resources available for help with dealing with depression and in today’s society technology is a tool used daily and is something most if not all university students are comfortable using. The shortcoming of this trial is that it requires participant completion to gain conclusive evidence that this type of treatment would be effective. It was reported that “twelve participants (18%) did not complete assessment 2” however the remaining completion rate is relatively high with 80.3% (Day, McGrath, Wojtowicz 348). In a six month follow-up with the participants that completed the trial it was found that they had maintained the progress achieved at the end of the trial (Day, McGrath, Wojtowicz 349).

Coverage Plans

Nunes is a project coordinator for York University’s Mobilizing Minds and is an active Research Analyst for CAMH. Along with her co-authors they have conducted a scholarly research report that focuses on the health care available to Canadian undergraduate university and college students. Among their findings they have concluded that for the institutions found that provide coverage, the amount provided to the students would be sufficient to cover the yearly average cost of medication treatments for anxiety and depression (Nunes 103). The group of authors searched 210 institutional websites to access information regarding the type of coverage provided to students with mental health issues and provides multiple tables with their findings, divided into universities and colleges across Canadian provinces and territories. The research, as stated in the article, has found that it is not without difficulty to access insurance coverage plan information on Web sites of college and university institutions and the ability to seek help is further hindered if the student feels self-conscious searching for such information (Nunes 106). The research has also found that extended coverage for further treatments and medications are available to students actively seeking it however limited coverage for counselling or psychotherapy (Nunes 106). The article provides extensive information on the steps recommended for students seeking medical treatment for their mental illness by way of student unions and associations and emphasizes the importance of on-campus services as it is within the vicinity the students spend the most time.

Exploring Options

Dr. Stewart is the Executive Director of Student Support, an Associate Professor and Clinical Psychologist for the University of Manitoba. Together, with Walker, Beatie, Reynolds, Hahlweg, Leonhart and Tulloch, conducted a survey of university asking about their opinions on their information options for mental health treatments and the kinds of things students would need answers to in search for medical care. The subject pool in which the survey was administered were 187 students between the ages of 18 to 25 of various ethnicities, occupations, marital status and degree of education obtained until the survey date (Stewart 359). Participants of the study were measured on the level of emotional distress using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale in which the participants rated how applicable the given situations were on a scale of 0 to 3, where 0 did not apply at all and where 3 applied very much or most of the time (Stewart 361). Likert scales were continued to be used throughout the study to measure various items in relation to how familiar the participant was with the item. For example, participants were to read a scenario in which a young adult male experienced distress from a panic disorder and another young adult male experienced distress from depression. A series of questions would follow the scenario that involved rating how familiar they were to the treatments available for the situations, and from their perspective what their personal preferences were in terms of treatment and the mode of delivery, amount of content, or to whom they would turn to for advice concerning mental health. The results of this study concluded that 50% of participants reported receiving professional help for problems with mental health at some time in their lives and 63% reported that there was a time when professional help would have been helpful when dealing with anxiety, stress or depression but did not receive it. The study also found that the highest majority were likely to seek advice from a romantic partner, while the lowest percentages were likely to seek a phone-in counselling health line (Stewart 363). The limitations to this study include the opinions of university students that have never received medical counselling and may have been influenced on forms of media or experiences from others. Also having a wider range of participants in terms of ethnicity, born outside of Canada, may have provided the researchers with a better spectrum of opinions and therefore more diverse results.

References

Bartha, C. (1999). Treatments for depression. In Depressive illness a guide for people with depression and their families : An information guide (pp. 17-28). Toronto, Ont.: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Day, V., McGrath, P. J., & Wojtowicz, M. (2013). Internet-based guided self-help for university students with anxiety, depression and stress: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51(7), 344-351. spacedoi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2013.03.003

Nunes, M., Walker, J., Syed, T., & De Jo, S. (2013). A national survey of student extended health insurance programs in postsecondary institutions in Canada: Limited support for students with mental health problems. Canadian spacePsychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 55(2), 101-109. doi: : 10.1037/a0036476

Stewart, D. W., Walker, J. R., Beatie, B., Reynolds, K. A., Hahlweg, K., Leonhart, M., & Tulloch, A. (2014). Postsecondary students’ information needs and pathways for help with stress, anxiety, and depression. Canadian Journal of spaceCounselling and Psychotherapy, 48(3), 356-374.

Bibliography

Barnett, L., & Blanco, J. (2014). The effects of depression on leisure: Varying relationships between enjoyment, sociability, participation, and desired outcomes in college students. doi: 10.1080/01490400.2014.915772

Bartha, C. (1999). Treatments for depression. In Depressive illness a guide for people with depression and their families : An information guide (pp. 17-28). Toronto, Ont.: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Brown, G. & Moffit, M. (creators & writers). (2014, August 19). The science of depression. Video Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com

Day, V., McGrath, P. J., & Wojtowicz, M. (2013). Internet-based guided self-help for university students with anxiety, depression and stress: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51(7), 344-351. spacedoi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2013.03.003

Flatt, A. K. (2013). A suffering generation: Six factors contributing to the mental health crisis in north american higher education. College Quarterly, 16(1). Retrieved from http://www.collegequarterly.ca/2013-vol16-num01-winter/flatt.html

Furr, S.R., & Westefeld, J.S. (1987). Suicide and depression among college students. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/614321028/fulltextPDF/BA82EF40EAC6443CPQ/1?accountid=15182

Hass, S.L., Hysenbegasi, A., & Rowland, C.R. (2005). The impact of depression on the academic productivity of university students. Retrieved from http://www.icmpe.org/test1/journal/issues/v8pdf/8-145_text.pdf

Nunes, M., Walker, J., Syed, T., & De Jo, S. (2013). A national survey of student extended health insurance programs in postsecondary institutions in Canada: Limited support for students with mental health problems. Canadian spacePsychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 55(2), 101-109. doi: : 10.1037/a0036476

Robinson, R. (2007). Comorbidity of alcohol abuse and depression: Exploring the self-medication hypothesis. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/docview/304859459/573EFD46ED934BA7PQ/accountid=15182

Shalhoub, J. (creator). (2015, February 23). What it’s like living with depression. Video Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com

Stewart, D. W., Walker, J. R., Beatie, B., Reynolds, K. A., Hahlweg, K., Leonhart, M., & Tulloch, A. (2014). Postsecondary students’ information needs and pathways for help with stress, anxiety, and depression. Canadian Journal of spaceCounselling and Psychotherapy, 48(3), 356-374.

Tartakovsky, M. (2008). Depression and anxiety among college students. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-and-anxiety-among-college-students/0001425?all=1

Wintre, M. G., & Yaffe, M. (2000). First-year students' adjustment to university life as a function of relationships with parents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15(1), 9-37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0743558400151002

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