Depression Common Among College Students

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For many young adults, becoming a college student is synonymous with starting a new life chapter that comprises exciting emotions and changes. But for an increasing number of students, those emotions aren't so positive.

A study presented by the American Psychological Association found that severe mental illness is more prevelant among college students than it was a decade ago.  

Depression is especially common on college campuses. Experts say it can result from both genetic and situational reasons.

For younger college students, depression can be linked to leaving home and familiar faces behind. But as Sheila Williams, Ohio University Clinical Mental Health Counselor, explained that upperclassmen with depression experience a different set a problems.

“For many students these days who are graduating, the work force is not as accommodating,” said Williams. “It’s a little scary having student loans and going out into the work place and not quite knowing whether you are going to find jobs or the thought of having to move back with parents after you’ve finally emancipated yourself.“

Williams said depression is treatable, but doctors strongly encourage patients to seek help at an early stage.

At OU, the Psychology and Social Work Clinic (PSWC) at Porter Hall is one option available to students with depression. It is a training clinic for graduate students who work under the supervision of licensed clinical psychologists.

“It’s something where the students are receiving training, but for the clients as well it can be a really great experience because in many ways you are receiving even better care because two people are focused on your care,” said Allison Reilly, OU clinical psychology graduate student. Campus Care, located on the third floor at Hudson Health Center, is another option at Ohio University.

Williams said it is difficult to determine if depression has increased among college students because there is less stigma attached to it and more students are seeking help.  She said the media has played a role in making depression a subject that's open for discussion.

“It’s very difficult to say whether or not there’s been an increase because years ago depression wasn’t talked about,” said Williams. “However, there have been an increase of college students presenting at counseling centers across the country with depression as a significant presenting complaint.”

She said she's seen an increase in the number of students who seek help from Hudson Health Center.