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Depression in College Freshmen Literature Review

The transition from high school to college sees the student shift a lot in terms of their burden and responsibilities. The students are now expected to handle more professional responsibilities to prepare for the working environment they are about to join. The shifts, in turn, cause a lot of psychological and emotional strain, which leads to higher cases of depression compared to the high school level. Another notable difference among college students is the equal measure with which depression affects both sexes. Generally, more adolescent and adult women suffer from stress-related issues and depression compared to men of the same age. In college students, the cases reported are almost equal in both sexes (Gladstone, 1994).

According to a study conducted at Emory University, it was concluded that there is a relationship between high depression scores and suicidal ideation among college students. According to the data collected from which was conducted on seven hundred and twenty-nine students, about 11% of the population had a current suicidal ideation. About 16% of the population had a history of suicidal ideation. There was a higher depression score in the population that had a current suicidal ideation, which strongly suggests the presence of a relationship between depression and suicidal ideation among college students. The study recommended more comprehensive support programs for the vulnerable population (Garlow, 2008).

According to another study by Farabaugh et al., it was identified that students who showed high scores of depression and hopelessness had higher chances of having suicidal ideation. The study recognized suicide as the major cause of death among college students. By conducting the study in three different institutions, the researchers were able to come up with possible markers of stress and depression that show a positive relationship with suicidal ideation. Identifying these markers can be a good way of identifying those at a higher risk of inducing self-harm (Farabaugh, 2012).

According to a study conducted to determine the prevalence and the promoters of stress amongst nursing students in China, about 23% of the population assessed had a high score on the depression assessment tool used. The high scores were associated with future career uncertainties, lack of social support, poor parental relationships, and poor academic performance. Better scores were obtained in students who had defined career paths, better social support systems, better parental relationships, and better academic performance (Xu, 2014).

The changes associated with the transition to college, including separation from family and an increase in academic responsibility, can be the promoters of stress onset amongst college students. There is also an increased proportion of students who abuse drugs after the college transition. It is important to understand each student and offer the necessary support in regard to stress management and substance use. The isolation of cases and diagnosis of the underlying abnormality form the basis for assistance with medication being used in extreme cases. In most cases, psychological support forms the basis of treatment (Pedrelli, 2015).

According to a study that was conducted on first-year college students, using the Beck depression inventory scores as the criterion for depression determination, the results showed that the students who had more alcohol consumption had higher depression scores. The results led to the conclusion that students with either heavy drinking habits or depression scores were at risk of progressing negatively. Screening such students is the only solution to their problem coupled with immediate follow-up and treatment of the existent illnesses (Geisner, 2012).

According to research conducted on French students, the results showed that about 80% of the study population suffered from anxiety, psychological distress, and depressive symptoms. About half of the study population was suffering from low self-esteem and a sense of low self-efficacy. The study recommended the recognition of students as a population that suffers from psychological hardships and the need to offer them necessary support just like in other groups. The hardships can be due to differences in preoccupations and first contact with the respective institutions (Saleh, 2017).

A study on the contributors of stress in African American students has shown socioeconomic status and hopelessness as a promoter of the development of anxiety disorders and depression amongst this group of students. According to other studies, students with cognitive vulnerabilities have an increased chance of developing depression symptoms. The findings were unexpected and showed increased depression in students with higher socioeconomic status and a corresponding increase in hopelessness among these students. Further research on the relationship between socioeconomic status and the development of depression among college students is therefore necessary in order to isolate the individual contributors to the current stand (Salami, 2014).

The development of depression amongst college students is a common phenomenon whose understanding calls for more research and documentation of the contributors of stress in this group. Isolation of the major contributors forms the only definite solution to the problem. The formation of individualized treatment programs based on the clinical signs forms the basis of treatment.


Farabaugh, A. S. (2012). Depression and suicidal ideation in college students. Psychopathology, 45(4), 228-234.

Garlow, S. J. (2008). Depression, desperation, and suicidal ideation in college students: results from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention College Screening Project at Emory University. Depression and anxiety, 25(6), 482-488.

Geisner, I. M. (2012). An examination of depressive symptoms and drinking patterns in first-year college students. Issues in mental health nursing, 33(5), 280-287.

Gladstone, T. R. (1994). Sex differences in depression across the high school to college transition. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 23(6), 643-669.

Pedrelli, P. M. (2015). College students: mental health problems and treatment considerations. Academic Psychiatry, 39(5), 503-511.

Salami, T. K. (2014). Socioeconomic status and symptoms of depression and anxiety in African American college students: The mediating role of hopelessness. Journal of black psychology, 40(3), 275-290.

Saleh, D. N. (2017). Predictors of stress in college students. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 19.

Xu, Y. X. (2014). Prevalence and correlates of depression among college nursing students in China. Nurse Education Today, 34(6), 7-12.



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