Archive for Friday, May 22, 2009

Many college students stressed, some depressed

May 22, 2009


— Stress over grades. Financial worries. Trouble sleeping. Feeling hopeless.

So much for those carefree college days.

The vast majority of college students are feeling stressed these days, and significant numbers are at risk of depression, according to an Associated Press-mtvU poll.

Eighty-five percent of the students reported feeling stress in their daily lives in recent months, with worries about grades, school work, money and relationships the big culprits.

At the same time, 42 percent said they had felt down, depressed or hopeless several days during the past two weeks, and 13 percent showed signs of being at risk for at least mild depression, based on the students’ answers to a series of questions that medical practitioners use to diagnose depressive illness.

These students complained of trouble sleeping, having little energy or feeling down or hopeless — and most hadn’t gotten professional help. Eleven percent had had thoughts that they’d be better off dead or about hurting themselves.

That’s not just a case of the blues to be shrugged off by taking a break with Facebook or going for a workout.


Kristin Potts, who graduated from Penn State last week with a 4.0 in chemistry and will go on for a master’s, says she’s seen warning signs among fellow classmates.

“I had a couple friends who didn’t come out of their rooms very much,” she said. “I tried my hardest not to be like that, but I definitely saw it.”

At the University of Maryland in College Park, students were sobered by two suicides within two weeks this past semester.

“It was pretty scary,” says Aimee Mayer, a junior studying psychology. She says there’s lots of information and help available for students with mental disorders, but “there’s still a stigma associated with mental health issues and so a lot of people don’t want to go to those services. They feel like they’re less cool or something like that if they go. It’s like a sign of vulnerability.”

Megan Salame, a sophomore studying civil engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., says she’d turn first to her parents if she felt depressed. But she hastened to add, “Depressed — I don’t really like to use that word because it sounds so negative.”


Mental health disorders like depression typically begin relatively early in life, doctors say, and college is a natural time for symptoms to emerge.

The AP-mtvU poll surveyed students at 40 U.S. colleges, exploring the students’ state of mind and the pressures they face, including strains from the tough economy. It found substantial numbers of students with symptoms of depression, many of them failing to receive professional help. Among the poll results:

• Nine percent of students were at risk of moderate to severe depression. That’s in line with a recent medical study that found 7 percent of young people had depression.

• Almost a quarter of those with a parent who had lost a job during the school year showed signs of at least mild depression, more than twice the percentage of those who hadn’t had a parent lose a job. More than twice as many students whose parents had lost a job said they had seriously considered ending their own life, 13 percent to 5 percent.

• Among those who reported serious symptoms of moderate depression or worse, just over a quarter had ever been diagnosed with a mental health condition.

• More than half of those who reported having seriously considered suicide at some point in the previous year had not received any treatment or counseling.

• Just a third of those with moderate symptoms of depression or worse had received any support or treatment from a counselor or mental health professional since starting college.

• Nearly half of those diagnosed with at least moderate symptoms weren’t familiar with counseling resources on campus.

‘They don’t get help’

Anne Marie Albano, an associate professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, said college is a “tender age” developmentally, a period when young adults start taking responsibility for their lives. They’re selecting careers, moving toward financial independence, establishing long-term relationships, perhaps marrying, having children.

The most troubling thing coming out of the AP-mtvU poll and other studies of young adults dealing with depression, she said, is that “they don’t get help” at a time when they’re just venturing off on their own.

“They have to learn to become their own monitors about their mental health and yet they have no training to do that,” she said.


igby 8 years, 6 months ago

Gee the real world after college just might push them over the edge!

May be they could get a stimulus from the Fed to add another class for all the students to take!

They could call it "The reality Augmentation of the human condition". Coping with the troubles of life, like paying parking tickets and helping them to stay out of trouble and avoid stupid people who lead them down the road of self destruction and chemical addictions.

They could host a field trip to the local bars, Casinos, crack houses, jail and a weekend at the nut house; but show them all the drunks in Lawrence, so they can wave and say high to their friends who already took the class.

Then, a trip to the hospital and a morgue; last would be the Tiller clinic. However, this may cause them to sway towards the political right a little too much.

There is a demand for keeping them broke and dumb but educated to a degree. Yes! a degree!

Chris Ogle 8 years, 6 months ago

Life is a bummer when you are still young enough to think you control everything. I think, that all of us had to fall off the "turnip truck" before we figured that out... hell, I am old and still get gravel in my butt from falling off the turnip truck....

classclown 8 years, 6 months ago

Megan Salame, a sophomore studying civil engineering at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., says she’d turn first to her parents if she felt depressed. But she hastened to add, “Depressed — I don’t really like to use that word because it sounds so negative.”


Yes, that word is so depressing isn't it? How about we go the PC route and start calling it 'joyfully challenged'?

Practicality 8 years, 6 months ago

"Eighty-five percent of the students reported feeling stress in their daily lives in recent months, with worries about grades, school work, money and relationships the big culprits."

Ha. You have almost reached adulthood now. Take away the grades part and add kids, elderly parents, house maintance, yard work, crappy bosses, etc. etc. etc. and I think you will find that 99.9 percent of adults have stress in their daily lives.

Practicality 8 years, 6 months ago

Maybe they are depressed at the thought of the Beer Tax?

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

Boy, a lot of harsh comments. If you are graduating and depressed, there is one thing that can bring your spirits up. Be glad that you have your whole life ahead of you and are not so old and jaded as we become when we get older. You are the future.

Don't worry about the lack of sympathy you might receive by reading these blogs. All of us have faced the challenge of leaving the nest and finding our places in life. I'm sure the numbers today are no different than they have always been. Times don't really change. Don't listen too the folks who say "back in my day we had to go to Nam", "back in my day we had to walk to school in the snow, uphill, both ways". A bunch of old cronies we can be.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 6 months ago

They may be afraid that they'll wind up living in a junk yard with a bunch of dogs in Wyandotte County.

gphawk89 8 years, 6 months ago

Stressed, depressed, and hopeless in college? What are these folks going to do when they get out of college and have real responsibilities? Hey, students: school is cake, enjoy it while you can. It's not going to get any easier.

"case of the blues to be shrugged off by taking a break with Facebook" Huh? If the best thing I could think of to bring up my spirits was Facebook I guess I'd be depressed too.

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

Maybe they are stressed about us old folks who allowed the economy to enter it's current state. That us old folks watched as we allowed good mfg jobs go overseas and become a service sector economy. And then we allowed even many of our service sector jobs to be handled by people overseas. They are stressed about what they are going to do....when there might not be much to do because we don't make anything in America anymore.

kristyj 8 years, 6 months ago

ALL major universities offer counseling services for students, both psychological & career. but maybe it's too depressing or stressful for students to make the effort to schedule appointments?

but maybe they need to play this at student orientations as a wake-up call for real life...

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

Nice video kristyj. Here is the song by the Beatles I thought of after graduating. The key line...."Outta college, money spent....

But there is hope too in the line "But oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go"

mom_of_three 8 years, 6 months ago

I read this article and thought of two things. One, students who are depressed and don't get help may be the next ones we read about in the paper.
And I totally understand about the pressure, but I am in a different situation. I am working full time, have three kids, a husband and am going to school part time, 3/4 time in the fall. I sometimes feel like I don't have enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to. And I still have to think about my job, money, bills, kids, etc.
But I am bringing the stress upon myself. And I know its going to help improve my life, improve their life. I just have learned to deal with it, and my family has been helpful in relieving some of the stress.

kmat 8 years, 6 months ago

Funny how the "blinded by right" folks will take any article and will find a way criticize Obama. You need to get a life.

feeble 8 years, 6 months ago

barrypenders (Anonymous) says…

The old college days when we had the opportunity to go to Nam was always a twist.

Unless of course you were Dick Cheney. Then you just got 2 DUIs, 5 deferments and a four year degreee in six years.

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

"Back in the day" they say. Younger kids should pay little attention to old geezers. Most of them were probably just the same when they graduated college. As we grow old we become more bitter and less tolerant of the younger generation. I think someone once said that they feared being liberal because it meant that they would be that much more conservative when they grow old. Take that to heart. Most of the hippies from the sixties are 180 degrees opposite of what there beliefs once were. It is not political. It is just a natural progression. Be tolerant, but pay less attention to the bitter.

hedshrinker 8 years, 6 months ago

I am saddened, but frankly not surprised that so many of the previous comments demonstrate the "eat your young" attitude..."I had it rough and I'm gonna pass that same favor on to you" school of mentoring. It's no wonder that so few people who genuinely need mental health education , support and guidance avail themselves of the unfortunately diminishing services for fear of being ridiculed and called whiner/wimp. All of us if we have a pulse experience stressors; how we respond is mediated by a complex myriad of factors including genetic pedigree, early circumstances, available supports, surrounding culture,developmental stage (young adulthood certainly has its real challenges), and healthy response certainly decreases when one is subjected to long standing, unresolved stressors. Depression is a serious problem in many populations ....if you ever had a friend, co-worker, family member, etc struggle with it, or God forbid ,successfully suicide, you might be a bit more sensitive. Jeez, develop some acceptance and compassion for your fellow planetary inhabitants.

TobiasFunke 8 years, 6 months ago

You guys are depressing, and sure seem to know everything about everything.

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

"You guys are depressing, and sure seem to know everything about everything" Tobias says ========================================== You may be on to something. If you don't know, I suppose ignorance is bliss. "knowledge is ignorance, stupidity, I call freedom"....PW

But I can see the depression these graduates might experience. It is the same thing we all went through. Why should we now be critical. Us old folks are sometimes like the stupid elders who told Gallileo and Copernicus that the earth was not the center of the universe, or that Elvis shaking his hips was bad, or the prudish theories we pass on that we never practiced at the same age.

I hate to say it, but most advancements that have taken place have been by younger people who bring a fresh outlook. Let's try to encourage them rather than listening to the old geezers.

camper 8 years, 6 months ago

I made a major error on the center of the universe comment. If you detect know what I meant. The sun is the center of the universe. Regardless of what the Pope said.

Alexander Neighbors 8 years, 6 months ago

This type of stress leads to binge drinking which makes even more problems

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