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16 Intriguing Depression in College Students Statistics

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Depression can affect a student’s ability to work, study, and get on with her day-to-day life. Some of the symptoms of depression can include insomnia, feeling sad or hopeless, and lack of concentration. In extreme cases, depression can lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

In this article, we will discuss the latest depression in college students statistics. The stigma surrounding mental illness is a massive barrier to students that want to seek treatment, and some even avoid doing so for confidentiality and financial reasons.

Top Stats (Editor’s Pick)

Here’s a brief overview of college depression statistics:

  • There are over 22 million college and university students in the United States
  • 41% of all college students have seen a professional about their mental health
  • 24% of those students got prescribed medication for mental illnesses
  • 6.9% had suicidal thoughts and wanted to end their lives in the last 12 months
  • 5.1% were diagnosed with depression and given medication and psychotherapy
  • 23.2% of mental health clinicians cite anxiety as the top concern for students.

While there is a lot of support for students struggling with depression, the problem isn’t going away soon. The shocking truth about college students with depression in the US reveals how widespread the issue is.


When young people leave a lifestyle they’ve got used to since birth, it’s bound to cause some anxiety. The unknown can often cause new college students to worry about what the future will hold for them.

1. How many college students have anxiety?

According to research from the American College Health Association, an eye-watering 63% of all students are suffering from anxiety, which is more than worrying depression in college students statistics.

College students face all kinds of challenges and changes in their lives. First of all, they lose their support network from home and family members and friends. They’ve also got to deal with things like moving in with new roommates and handling increasing workloads. What’s more, they must adapt to a more independent way of living.

2. Too much screen time can be a bad thing for adolescents.

Research studies often cite environmental changes as the prime reason for anxiety. However, anxiety statistics in college students seldom talk about the link between electronic devices and psychological well-being.

Given that we live in a digital age, it’s no surprise that most young people use computers and smartphones. But recent research has shown that too much screen time can harm their psychological well-being.

3. Students are often anxious about the rising college costs.

Did you know that state funding was supporting college education until the 1980s? Plus, students were enjoying the benefits of federal grants. Today, however, student debts for college education are rising with no signs of slowing down.

When we talk about anxiety in college students statistics, it’s important to consider those spiraling education costs. Many young people are naturally anxious about affording to pay back their student loans. And that’s even after the promise of a well-paying job!

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It’s no secret that we all experience stress to some degree. In high school, for example, we had to deal with the stress of revising for exams. When it comes to college stress, it can often be a shock for many students.

4. Stress is the third-biggest reason students seek help for their mental health.

The Counseling Center conducted a study during the 2017-18 academic year. A whopping 166,261 students sought help, and clinicians said that stress was a cause for concern in 43.9% of those students.

As you can see, those college stress statistics are pretty damning! There are several reasons college students feel stress is overwhelming for them. For instance, the stress of lifestyle changes and interpersonal relationships can be a factor, as are increased workload and exams.

5. Stress can have a big impact on a student’s academic performance.

The American College Health Association conducts annual research on various student help topics. In its latest National College Health Assessment, 34.2% of students claimed that stress impacted their academic performance within the past 12 months. To put it another way, this is one in three students!

There are also some other stress in college students statistics contained in the NCHA. One of them is that a whopping 48.2% of female students indicated they experience “more than average” stress levels.

6. Students get stressed by things other than their college education.

It’s easy for an outsider to assume that students feel stressed out because of what they’re doing in college. After all, starting a new life away from home can have a significant impact on adolescents.

The thing is, college education isn’t the only thing that stresses out students nowadays. When it comes to learning the facts about stress in college students, it’s important to scrutinize all causes, including the following:

  • Financial burdens – Students worry about how they will pay for their education and accommodation on a low income
  • Job prospects – Will their future career options provide them with enough money to pay student debts and live comfortably
  • Pressure from family members – Parents placing high expectations on students, especially if they are the first in their family to go to college
  • Social stressors – Peer pressure, feeling homesick, engaging in damaging social activities like drinking or taking drugs.

7. There aren’t enough counselors to go around.

In college, the first port of call for any help will be the counseling center. Counselors are there to help with college student stress management, but there aren’t enough counselors – especially in large institutions.

Did you know that, on average, there is just one counselor available to 1,411 students?

8. A small portion of students feels no stress at college.

You would think that stress is something that we all experience in our lives at some point. Some of us might have a lot of stress to deal with on a regular basis. Others, however, take it in their stride and seldom give it a second thought!

There’s plenty of research out there that measures how many college students feel stressed out. But one of the more interesting and perhaps little-known college stress facts is that only 1.7% of students feel no stress at all! According to current statistics, 3.4% of male students feel no stress, compared to 0.8% of female students.

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As you’ve already seen, college students have a lot of things to deal with. Unsurprisingly, mental health issues aren’t the only problems they face. Not getting enough sleep is another issue they encounter regularly.

As you know, we all need to have regular, good quality sleep to function properly! So what is causing sleeplessness in college students? Let’s take a look at some facts and statistics.

9. Irregular sleep patterns are as harmful as fewer hours of sleep each night.

Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital measured the sleep patterns and behaviors of 61 full-time college students for 30 days. Through a variety of metrics, they have concluded that going to sleep and waking up at set times is as important as the length of sleep each student gets.

It’s a well-known fact that many college students often pull “all-nighters” to complete their studies or to revise for an exam the next day. Irregular sleep patterns can play havoc on our body clocks.

10. Insufficient sleep is often linked to mental health problems.

Did you know that a lack of sleep can impact our mental health? According to research presented at the latest Sleep 2019 conference, the lack of sleep increases the risk of mental health symptoms by around 20%.

Sleeping problems in college students is nothing new. However, if those students don’t understand the importance of good and regular sleep, they could develop mental health problems such as depression.

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Being diagnosed with a mental illness isn’t something that should be taken lightly. The sad truth is that college depression stats don’t make for positive reading. College students are increasingly getting diagnosed with depression each year. As you can guess, it’s a problem that can hamper their academic studies and, ultimately, result in poor grades or drop-outs.

11. How many college students suffer from depression?

Within the last 12 months, a staggering one in five college students stated that depression has affected their academic performance. What’s more, according to depression in college students statistics, 20% of students have been officially diagnosed with depression by a professional. 

Female students are more likely to suffer from depression at a rate of 22.5%, while males only account for 11.7%. The depression rates in college students are shocking but by no means surprising.

12. The number of students getting hospitalized for depression is increasing every year.

While it’s true that many college students with mental health concerns get treatment, things don’t always work out. Sadly, 9.9% of all college students that got diagnosed and treated for depression have ended up in a hospital.

The most concerning thing here is that this figure is increasing each year. The 9.9% figure was recorded for the 2017-18 academic year. Just 12 months earlier, it was at 9.8%. In 2010-11, only 7.2% of students were hospitalized. It’s a sad statistic that the percentage of college students with depression that end up hospitalized is on the rise.

13. Depression often starts at a pre-college age.

Anyone looking at these facts and statistics might assume that college life is stressful and often the cause of depression in adolescents. The truth is, depression can and does often start at a much earlier age.

Childhood depression can often go undiagnosed and become more prominent after the age of 18. Examples of depression in children include frequent absences from school, poor concentration, and low self-esteem. Depression in youth is a serious problem and one that often goes undetected until adolescents are of college age.

14. More college students are getting diagnosed with depression each year.

So far, we know how many college students have got diagnosed with depression in the last 12 months. But is that figure rising or decreasing? Unfortunately, the results show that more college students are getting an official diagnosis of depression from medical professionals each year.

The comparison over the last four years is as follows:

  • 2018-19 – 20%
  • 2017-18 – 18.1%
  • 2016-17 – 16.7%
  • 2015-16 – 13.9%.

Considering the above depression in college students stats, we can conclude that the problem is a growing concern with each passing year.

15. More students feel drugs and alcohol are affecting their mental health each year.

Even though more college students are seeking help for their mental health problems, the good news is that many recognize that something is wrong.

It’s plain to see what types of issues are causing mental health problems. But what we don’t know yet is how mental health affects college students? In the 2017-18 academic year, 27.4% of those receiving mental health services felt they should reduce their drugs and alcohol intake.

16. Several symptoms are often cited as a cause of mental health problems.

As you can imagine, mental health is quite a broad and complex topic. Professionals that see college students for mental health services report that students have many simultaneous symptoms.

The three biggest concerns noted by those professionals are as follows:

  1. Anxiety – 61.8%
  2. Depression – 49.8%
  3. Stress – 43.9%.


As you’ll have noted from the above-discussed statistics, mental health problems affect many areas of college students’ lives. This results in a reduced quality of life and poor academic performance. A lack of exercise and an increase in drugs and alcohol consumption can also ensue, causing declining physical health.

What the above depression in college students statistics and facts don’t mention is the overall consequences to their lives. Those affected with mental health problems will find their conditions negatively impact relationships with family members and friends. Future employment opportunities can become seriously hampered too.

It’s not just college students and their families and friends that get affected by mental health issues. The wider college campus community is also involved, such as classmates and teachers.

The college depression statistics tell us that more needs to be done to safeguard the mental health of future generations. Many students go into college with undiagnosed symptoms, which then become amplified once they settle into campus life.

There is also a greater need for extra counseling services. As we explained above, depression in college students statistics reveal that anxiety is a leading cause for concern. Mounting student debts, coupled with the pressure to “do well” in college, often push students to breaking point.

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