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Rates of Recidivism

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2nd December, 2015
Depression in Under-Graduate Students
Depression can affect individuals of all age groups, and undergraduate students are no exception to such psychological health problems. Depression is a psychological disorder that is associated with sustained depression in mood and behavior. The individual under depression fails to find enjoyment and even is under the risk of suicide. Depression is just a manifestation of various mood disorders and is associated with psychiatric comorbid diseases like panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few. The symptoms of depression include sustained depressed mood, trouble in falling asleep or sleeping too much, eating too much or eating too less and speaking so fast or slow, which is unnatural to others. For the management of depression, it is important that the symptoms of depression and its associated disorders must be diagnosed appropriately. The disease is marked by decreased availability of serotonin in the synapse. Serotonin is a mood elevating neurotransmitter, and hence reuptake of excess serotonin in the presynaptic membrane leads to the state of depression. Various cognitive therapies and pharmacological agents are implemented to control the episodes of depression in both children and adults. Left untreated, depression may lead to episodes of self-harm and even suicide. Hence, it is important to understand the reasons for depression, because if the causative factors for depression are not solved, depression may be relapsed in such individuals.

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Undergraduate students across various curriculums are exposed to academic pressures, peer pressures, concerns of employment and other psychological issues related to the body and mind that occurs during the adolescent periods. Such issues include fear of retaliation and relationship constraints with opposite sex, in the educational environment. In fact, a study reported that the high prevalence of depression, anxiety and stress symptoms amongst university students is alarming ( Bayram & Bilgel, 2008).The present article would try to evaluate whether depression is present in undergraduate students and if so, what are the likely causative factors for such episodes.
Synthesis of Findings
A study was done by Basnet et al (2012) on 50 undergraduate students, studying in the first year medical course (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) at B.P. Koirala Institute of Medical Sciences, Kathmandu, Nepal. The overall prevalence of depression was estimated to be present in 29.78% students. The prevalence of depression during the first year and third year of study was 36.74% and 22.22% respectively. The depression was more in female students (32.43%) compared to their male counterparts (28.07) (Fig1). Academic stress was very high during the first year and third year of study, as was indicated by subjective ratings. Moreover, hectic lifestyles were identified as the chief causative facts for stress in these individuals. Since, the prevalence of depression was significantly more in the first year undergraduate medical students; therefore stressors related with academic pressure must be minimized and addressed. The stressors that may be looked into would be to reduce the number of credits and to engage the students more through interactive sessions.

Fig1: Comparison of prevalence in depression in male and female UG students at B Koirala Institute.
Another study explored the relationship between credit load and the prevalence of depression in full –time undergraduate students in the age groups of 18 to 24 years. The study was conducted on the students of Midwest University. The study hypothesized that increased and higher credit load will be linked to the higher degree of depression as would be measured from a Depression rating scale. The depression rating scale used in the study was Zung Self-rating Depression Scale. The number of credits and the depression scores were analyzed by Pearson’s product moment correlation “r”. The correlation coefficient was estimated to be negative ( -0.325) ( p<0.05, df=45). This means increasing the credit load will reduce episodes of depression in those undergraduate students. The study is quite contrary than the framed hypothesis and even from the previous study. It might be possible that depression was not portrayed appropriately, as it was a self-rated questionnaire and the credit load may also not be very stressful.
A study was conducted in women’s colleges that were single sex institutions. A cross-sectional internet based survey was performed on these students for evaluation of depressive symptoms. The study was done in a southern United States college. Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21(DASS-21) was implemented to categorize the mental health disorder in these students. Prevalence of depression and anxiety measured by CES-D and DASS-21, was found to be 26.3% and 26% respectively.
Discussion and Conclusion
From the various studies discussed above, it is evident that depression and anxiety are prevalent in undergraduate students irrespective of sex. However, the causative factors for such depressive episodes are inconclusive and it cannot be definitely related to academic pressure or stress of credit loads. Future studies must be done to link the social, psychological and relationship aspects in these groups of individuals, to find out the real causative factors. Understanding such factors would really help to screen the individuals and to counsel them for alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Works Cited
Basnet,B;Jaiswal,M,Adhikari,B & Shyangwa, P. Depression among undergraduate medical students Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ). 2012 10.39(2012): pp.56-9.
Wilson, K, Bohnert, A, Ambrose A, Destiny,D, Jones, d 7Magee, M. Social, behavioral, and sleep characteristics associated with depression symptoms among undergraduate students at a women’s college: a cross-sectional depression survey, 2012 BMC Women’s Health , 14 (2014), pp: 8

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