Depression is a growing health problem for college students. Screening, treatment, and education may improve the negative short-term effects of depression on students’ college experience and the long-term chronic effects that affect their life.
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Description of the Problem
Depression is one of the primary causes of death in the United States, which makes it one of the most prevalent psychological illnesses in the country. Depression affects more than 19 million Americans in which 25% are women and 10% are men, with a significant percentage being college students, the majority of whom experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime (Beiter et al., 2015). The effects of depression are not only felt in those who suffer but can also extend to family members or even society in general. Individually, the treatment of depression costs the economy about 40 billion dollars annually (Beiter et al., 2015). Thus, since college students are the highest percentage suffering from depression, this issue requires urgent intervention.
The Purpose of the Project
The purpose of the study is to analyze depression among college students and to provide intervention techniques.
Beiter et al. (2015) explore the association that exists between depression, suicidal thoughts, stress, and personality in order to determine the major drivers of suicide. The results of this study show that most suicides were associated with depression. Furthermore, the prevalence of depression among female college students was higher than that of male students. Females who take engineering and nursing courses were found to have the highest percentage of depression among all college students (Beiter et al., 2015). Moreover, there was a high prevalence of depression in public colleges as compared to private colleges. Mood disorders, stress, and anxiety were among the significant signs of depression.
In addition, Beiter et al. (2015) also investigated the differences that exist between the levels of depression in different colleges. The female students were found to be more anxious and more depressed than their male counterparts. This shows that there is a big difference between the levels of depression in males and females in various colleges. Similarly, a study conducted in one of the medical schools during a semester indicates that in 88 participants, 70% did not have depression, 18% had dysphoria, 7% had mild depression, and 6% were suffering from severe depression, which can be seen as a low rate when compared to the population under investigation (Beiter et al., 2015). Regardless, the prevalence of depression is generally high.
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According to Paynter (2017), the rate of depression among college students in the United States is quite significant. It is estimated at 22% against 90% of colleges (Paynter, 2017). Most of the deaths in this population are caused by suicide, which has a strong connection with depression. Similarly, according to the studies conducted by Nelson and Liebel (2018), depression mostly affects new students in college, especially the first-years who might find that their expectations were too high. Furthermore, the transition from home to college life may be associated with several challenges that require an adjustment to integrate successfully. The detachment from parents and friends and having to form a new circle of social support system, the pressure to excel in academic work and living in a new environment often pose severe challenges to some students. The majority of them transition successfully but others become depressed, especially if they displayed some depressive symptoms before the transition. The depressive symptoms occur as a result of exhaustion, less satisfying academic results, as well as heartbreaks in relationships (Nelson & Liebel, 2018). Although research shows that most students can transition successfully, there is a small percentage that develops a lasting pattern of mental health problems.
The research by Baker et al. (2014) that discusses the causes of depression demonstrates that there is a strong connection between alcohol abuse and depression. The massive consumption of alcohol by college students can explain the higher cases of depression. The students who experience depression are also most likely to be found consuming alcohol. The researchers are still trying to find a balance between the two because some students take alcohol whenever they feel depressed while others become depressed after consuming alcohol (Baker et al., 2014). They consume alcohol with the belief that it will reduce their levels of stress and tension. A considerable number of students engages in alcohol abuse due to peer pressure as part of the transition to the college life, and they develop depression when the effects of alcohol abuse start emerging.
Furthermore, according to McCarter et al. (2016), heavy consumption of alcohol has been occurring in colleges for decades in the United States, which is believed to be connected to the transition to adulthood. For a long a time, the policies enacted in colleges concerning the consumption of alcohol expressed the belief that it was a part of the developmental process. The effects associated with heavy consumption of alcohol were viewed merely as a developmental process for college students that could not be avoided. The American society has always viewed the heavy use of alcohol as a transition to adulthood, as a rite of passage for everybody (McCarter et al., 2016). It is also associated with the freedom of being out of the parents’ control and experiencing the adult life. However, in recent times, the consumption of alcohol in colleges has resurfaced as a major cause of depression among the students, with several students suffering from prolonged mental illnesses and deaths (McCarter et al., 2016). Interventions are being implemented to curb the problem that has caused severe damage to some students in colleges.
According to a research conducted by Gibson et al. (2017), recently, 85% of college students reported having consumed alcohol while in college, which indicates that high drinking prevalence has not changed since 1977. Men are known to drink alcohol more frequently than females. The male percentage is estimated at 31% whereas women’s alcohol consumption is at 13% (Gibson et al., 2017). Furthermore, most students consume alcohol, which has worsened their depression levels. Although the abuse of illicit substances has been reported to have reduced significantly since 1982, the rate of alcohol consumption per individual has increased, as well as health hazards associated with it (Gibson et al., 2017). The study shows that the youngest people in colleges consume alcohol and that males dominate in this regard in both frequency and quantity.
At the same time, depression can be diagnosed and treated. According to Ferguson (2018), most health facilities in the United States do not test for alcohol consumption. The research conducted recently indicated that most medical practitioners examine alcohol consumption to ascertain the magnitude of the problem as there are severe disorders associated with it. In case of colleges, most administrations conduct a screening of all students to detect depression and provide necessary support. There is the dire need to educate the students on the effects of alcohol consumption and its relatedness to depression. They should be aware of the acceptable behavior in college and take better control of their lives. Counselors have also been utilized to solve the effects of depression among college students as mental problems require qualified psychological support (Ferguson, 2018). Students at this stage need guidance and counseling sessions to be able to express what is ailing them openly.
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Roles of FNP in Depression as a HCP
Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) have played a critical role in educating college students who suffer from depression. FNP is responsible for collaborating with the healthcare staff, families, and patients suffering from depression in planning, delivering, and evaluating healthcare outcomes associated with depression. According to Fortinsky et al. (2014), the process involves the concept of dignity and respect as well as information sharing that involves collaboration where the unique input of all individuals is considered. The focus is put on the individual college students and how they depend on their family to solve the issues of depression. Furthermore, the intervention seeks to ensure that the improved behavior is achieved and to increase parental competence and cohesion.
Fortinsky et al. (2014) review the triggers of depression among the college students. The argument in this article revolves around familial circle and family influence. The results reveal that family influences college depression to a high degree. The article mentions that college depression as a topic is indefinite and that the issue has been researched poorly due to inadequate diagnosis of depression in the society. Depression is caused by various imposed factors, environmental factors, illnesses, and grief, which are the major trigger points; thus, there is the need for FNPs to analyze these concepts to help in curbing depression among the college students (Fortinsky et al., 2014). On the other hand, the well-being of college students with depression depends on their surroundings, which requires ensuring that the victims are provided with better lives both at home and in school. The school management needs to be informed about the conditions of the students so they could create a helpful environment. Similarly, parents have the responsibility of influencing the environment of the students when they are at home. When combined, this approach is one of the most effective ones to curb depression among college students.
For FNPs, there is a need to understand the stages of depression in college students to provide the best options to curb this condition. According to Chen et al. (2016), depression exists in a progressive sequence of symptoms displayed by both males and females from different levels of study in colleges. The signs are seen to progressively increase with late diagnosis and decrease with early diagnosis and treatment. In cases where there is no diagnosis or treatment at all, the symptoms seem to multiply and trigger other complications that compromise the well-being of the students. Recurring incidences of depression are witnessed in 70% of college students in the first two years in college; it means that they had the first episode of depression in early years, back at school (Chen et al., 2016). As mentioned previously, college newcomers try to adjust to changes in their life and the fact that they cannot meet the expectations that they have set before joining college. Therefore, FNPs may educate the students at an early stage or even before it, which would reduce the episodes of depression in the future.
Moreover, according to Mazurek Melnyk, Kelly, and Lusk (2014), parents and guardians have a significant influence on depression in college students. The family can have a positive or negative impact in the course of treatment of depression. Parents have played an active part in the decision-making process for college students by identifying depression in students when they are at home, wondering what might be wrong upon seeing a change in their moods or lifestyle. Parents and guardians can recommend a treatment plan that will be able to help a student overcome depression. This entails diagnosis and recommendation of the best treatment, as well as the black box warning for specific medication used to ensure that there is a guaranteed recovery.
Educators and Depression
The article by Keefe et al. (2015) emphasizes the interconnection between nurse educator and depression. It states that there is the need to educate the nurse educators on the issues of depressions so they could be able to provide better education services to the victims and in this case, to college students. It is essential to educate nurse educators on the intricacies of depression since it is one of the most severe conditions that can affect students and in some cases, it leads to death. Depression involves understanding both the psychological and physiological composition of an individual before choosing treatment for them. Not all nurse educators can study the mental composition of a patient as they may be experts in a different filed, and thus they should be educated before they can offer such services (Keefe et al., 2015). The results of the article indicated that there is the increased degree of success of interventions applied to students suffering from depression by trained nurse educators.
On the other hand, nurse educators also require education before they can deal with students undergoing depression. Depression requires a certain process that should be followed before it can be treated. Nurse educators might not be aware of this process and thus they should be educated on what is expected to ensure that there is a proper intervention offered to a patient (Keefe et al., 2015). The education process should comprise various ways in which depression can affect the student, the symptoms of depression, and how they can affect the academic progress of students. The nurse educator should be aware of these aspects before they start educating students about it (Keefe et al., 2015). Moreover, the educators should be informed on the control and management of depression, which may involve encouraging patient to make proper decisions, especially at the time when they feel its effects.
The Risk Factor of Depression
The research by Daskalopoulou et al. (2016) reviews the risk factors of depression in college students. Several risks are associated with depression that may harm the students or even lead to their death. This study is based on a selection of several students who have undergone depression. The results show that depression can lead to substance abuse. The depressed college students are likely to drink too much as a way to curb depression; however, alcohol use only worsens this condition. Students also engage in smoking marijuana, binge drinking, and participating in unsafe and risky sexual behaviors based on the pain they undergo. Depression can cause troubled sleep as 43% of students with depression complained about insomnia. Suicides have also been reported as a risk factor for depression (Daskalopoulou et al., 2016). Most importantly, depressed students have displayed a dismal performance in academic field since they are psychologically troubled and may not have time to read and understand class contents.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
The analysis of a source by Corrigan, Kwasky, and Groh, (2015 reveals the variety of symptoms of depression in college students. The source emphasizes the main characteristics of depression and how they affect the individuals. It is evidenced by the source that depression varies based on age and gender as the symptoms also vary considerably due to certain differences. Some of the symptoms associated with depression in college students include but are not restricted to the extreme sadness that goes beyond reasonable, irritability, decreased interest in pleasure, and withdrawal from family members or even friends. Moreover, depression in college students may be associated with reduced appetite, weight problems, fatigue, a feeling of guilt and worthlessness, poor performance in school, destructive behavior, and suicidal thoughts (Corrigan, Kwasky & Groh, 2015). The family nurse practitioners have taken an active part in reviewing the most prevalent symptoms of depression and providing education regarding advice and encouragement that target these symptoms to reduce the rate of depression in college students.
Treatment for Depression
According to Daly et al. (2018), there are various treatment options for depression, and these options vary depending on the level of depression among college students. One of the treatment options is the use of medicines. Antidepressant medication such as SSRIs, Noradrenaline, and SNRIs have helped in reducing the symptoms of depression. Cognitive behavior therapy has also been used as an approach to manage this condition. It is based on changing the way the students think and diverting their attention from the factors that make them depressed. Daly et al. (2018) claim that this approach is most effective, especially to those who are suicidal. Moreover, neuromodulation approach has been used to solve the cases of depression among college students. According to Lox et al. (2017), other alternatives therapies can also be used to manage depression. Regular exercise is important since it boosts serotonin and other brain chemicals that help in managing depression. Furthermore, proper diet and sufficient sleep are needed in the management of depression. Therefore, these therapies are necessary and effective in managing depression in college students.
Ethnic / Cultural and Religious Considerations in Depression
Religion has played a critical role in the issue of depression in the society and it can provide information concerning the prevalence of depression within a large group. Different religions have reported cases of genetic factors that have contributed to the high rate of depression among college students. Thus, religion should be a factor to consider when analyzing depression among this group. In addition, culture and ethnicity are the important aspects that affect both health and illnesses. Depression was considered a disease in western countries while being allegedly a non-issue in other cultures (Nemade, Reiss & Dombeck, 2018). However, based on ethnomedicine studies, depression was revealed to be related to cultural perception based on the symptoms regarded as depressive among college students. Specifically, in India, most of mental disorders fall under the categories of depressive disorders while in Japan, the mere idea of mental illness is unacceptable (Nemade, Reiss & Dombeck, 2018). Thus, the ideology of depression varies in different states.