College Health 101: Depression & Anxiety

Depressed college students with sleeping problems have greater anxiety symptoms also

(RxWiki News) College may be an emotionally exciting and challenging time for students. But if these challenges prove overwhelming, students should seek help for any mental health issues they experience.

A recent study found that college students who had depression and trouble sleeping were more likely to have anxiety as well.

Those students also had more trouble functioning physically and mentally.

A depressed college student with sleeping problems should seek help from a therapist or counselor.

"Seek help for depression."

The study, led by Maren Nyer, PhD, of the Depression Clinical & Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, looked at whether difficulty sleeping was related to depression and anxiety in college students.

The researchers analyzed questionnaires filled out by 287 undergraduate students who were being screened for mental health conditions.

The questionnaires included one on depression symptoms, one on anxiety symptoms, one on basic demographics (age, race/ethnicity, income, etc.), one on physical and mental functioning and several related to other emotions or quality of life.

The researchers found that the 220 students with symptoms of depression and difficulties sleeping reported more intense and more frequent anxiety symptoms than the 67 students who had depression but not sleeping difficulties.

Those who had depression and problems sleeping also had poorer physical and mental functioning than the students who only had depression.

The researchers did not find any differences among the students, regardless of sleeping difficulties, in how severe their depression was, how hopeless they felt or what their quality of life was.

The researchers concluded that college students experiencing depression and having difficulties sleeping may have worse anxiety symptoms and more difficulty functioning in general than depressed college students who are able to sleep sufficiently.

The authors said their findings suggest that poor sleep in college students who also have depression should be something that healthcare providers attempt to address.

Any therapy these students receive should include interventions intended to improve sleep, whether it's a symptom or it's to prevent sleep problems from developing or worsening.

The study was published May 16 in the journal Depression and Anxiety. The research was funded by The Jed Foundation.

Six of the authors reported various relationships with a wide range of pharmaceutical and other industry companies, such as research support, honoraria, speakers' or travel expenses or stock holdings. The other five authors reported no potential conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
May 28, 2013