Depression may be on the rise on college campuses

By Brittany Hackett

College students across the country are falling victim to the latest trend. It can’t be bought in a store or online and does not come in a variety of flavors or colors. Not everyone can have an identical version of this trend, but almost all college students have been sucked into the trend in one way or the other.

What is this latest trend? It’s depression and it’s on the rise on college campuses.

In a 2001 study conducted by the Department of Counseling at the University of North Carolina, 1,455 students from four colleges were asked in surveys whether they had ever experienced depression, what factors led to the depression, and what mediums of help they sought out (if any).

More than half of the surveyed students said they have suffered from what they call depression since being at college. This high rate of depression, 53 percent, may seem alarming, but according to Associate Dean of Counseling Mary Tinlin, self-diagnosed depression may not always be accurate.

Tinlin claims the distinction between clinical depression and anxiety can be difficult to determine. “Depression has become the catch-all phrase of emotion,” Tinlin said.

The rising rate of college students who experience depression also might not be different from what it was ten years ago. The difference might be in the fact that this generation of college students are more inclined to seek help earlier rather than as a last resort claims Tinlin.

“I think that college students [today] are more savvy about mental health. The stigma [of depression] is reduced for this generation,” Tinlin said.

The sample size of the study was similar to the student body of Flagler College so the reasons that were cited for depression will probably not be surprising. Of the students who claimed to have suffered f
rom depression, 53 percent cited grade problems as the cause. Loneliness caused depression in 51 percent of the students and money problems affected half of those surveyed. Parental problems and helplessness were also cited as reasons for depression.

These results do not surprise Tinlin, who believes many reasons for depression in college students are intertwined. A generalization of factors for depression cannot be made but some anxieties are more distinctive to certain classes of college students.

According to Tinlin, underclassmen have anxiety over the adjustment of living away from home for the first time and college in general. Upperclassmen usually experience anxiety over things like career choices or graduate school decisions, which can lead to depression. Tinlin said, “Different problems present themselves at different times.”

Anxiety about grades, money, and relationships are not uncommon for college students so how can they tell if the anxiety has become a more serious problem?

The Flagler College Counseling Center offers three basic signs to watch for. Changes in mood, behavior, or habits can all be signs that the common pressures are having an uncommon effect. Paying attention to stress levels, keeping a healthy lifestyle, and having positive time management skills are all day-to-day ways college students can cope with stress and reduce anxiety.

However, if a student can seem to relax, eat and sleep properly, or put an end to that pesky procrastination problem the Counseling Center offers free services to all Flagler students.
Confidential sessions can be scheduled Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can be made by visiting the Center (located on the second floor of 20 Valencia), calling 819-6305, or by e-mail,

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