Mental Disorders Increase Among College Students

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Recent suicides and shootings on college campuses have caused medical and psychiatric professionals to turn their attention to the psychological health of university students.

One particular study was led by John Guthman of Hofstra University; research for the project spanned 12 years (1997-2009) and focused on 3,265 students who had obtained services from campus counseling centers during that time span.  The majority of the students reported to these centers due to mental disorders, suicidal thoughts, or self-injurious behavior, such as cutting.  Guthman’s team made the following comparisons between students in 1998 and those in 2009:

*In 1998, 93% of those who sought counseling were diagnosed with one mental disorder; in 2009, 96% were diagnosed.
*During the 12 year span, the number of those students who suffered moderate to severe depression rose from 34% to 41%.
*The percentage of students who were taking psychiatric medication for anxiety, depression, or ADHD rose from 11% to 24%
*Those who engaged in self injurious behavior rose from 4% to 8%

In response to the study, Guthman told WebMd that colleges and universities are doing a better job of indentifying and providing adequate services for students suffering from psychiatric disorders.
He also emphasizes that although his research analyzed the mental health of college students only, among young adults aged 18-24, there is so significant, psychological difference between those who attend college and those who do not.

According to Science Daily, a study performed by Carlos Blanco, M.D., Ph.D of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, verifies Guthman’s assertion.

Dr. Blanco and his colleagues broke down young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 into two groups:  those who attended college (2,188) and those did not (2,904).  The team focused on those who had been interviewed and assessed for mental disorders from 2001-2002.

The results between the two groups were similar in one respect:  45.8% of those attending college and 47.7% of those not attending met the criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder.  Further analysis did reveal some differences between specific disorders that were diagnosed among the two groups:

*The most common disorders in college students were alcohol abuse and personality disorders.
*Disorders among those not attending college were most frequently identified as personality and nicotine disorders.
*Although college students were less likely to be diagnosed with bi-polar, drug, and nicotine disorders, they were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol disorders.

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