Depression among Turkish Female and Male University Students

Article excerpt

This research aimed to examine (1) the depression levels of university students, and whether or not depression levels of university students differ significantly according to their gender, (2) if university students' problem-solving skills, submissiveness levels, social support from family, friends and society, ages and cumulative Grade Point Averages (GPAs) predict their depression level; and (3) if predictive values of these variables change according to gender. The research was carried out with 293 university students. The finding of the study was that perceived problem solving, social support from friends, and submissiveness predicted depression in university students.

Keywords: depression, problem solving, submission, perceived social support, university students

The time spent during undergraduate education brings extensive changes in various areas of individuals' lives, because it is a transitional period between adolescence and adulthood. Especially in Turkey, young people are not given much responsibility until university years, when they may be knocked down because of changing expectations and responsibilities. They must succeed in many developmental tasks like adapting to new situations, establishing intimate relationships with others, becoming members of different groups, and undergoing professional development. Some of these tasks create negative effects in youth, such as anxiety about the future, and about finding a job after graduation. For these reasons, although entering university is a positive development for young people, it may become a stressor for some of them as they shoulder additional responsibilities and get away from their families both physically and psychologically. These extra stresses in their lives may increase their tendency to have psychological problems, and one psychological problem prevalent among university students is depression. (Kucur et al., 2000). Depression is described as an emotional state revealing itself with the loss of interest and pleasure in ordinary activities, great sadness, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, loss of appetite and sleep, and loss of sexual desire (Davidson & Neale, 1994). Because of these symptoms, depression may affect young people's lives negatively. Therefore, investigating the factors related to depression has gained great importance.

In research literature, the depression levels of university students and the relationship between depression and different variables have been the subjects of many studies. Different instruments have been used in depression studies, but the most widely used one is the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) (Beck, Steer, & Garbin, 1988). But changing numerical values related to depression levels have been obtained in studies conducted with the BDI. For example, in research carried out with university students by using the BDI, it was observed that means usually changed between 0-13. Dorahy et al. (2000) investigated depression levels according to diverse cultural groups and reached a mean of 7.63 for Australia, 8.39 for Ghana, 11.01 for Nigeria, 6.70 for Northern Ireland, and 11.30 for Swaziland. Most studies in Turkey, have also been conducted by means of the BDI. Different means were obtained in these studies as follows: Aydm (1990) and Korkmaz (2001) found the mean of BDI points as 11.59 and 10.83, respectively. In addition to mean differences in depression studies, the gender issue should also be carefully considered.

Beck (1974) suggested that special attention be given to gender when the BDI is used. Numerous studies have explored depression levels as a function of gender. In these studies, the findings have varied. Some have found the depression levels of female university students higher than those of male university students (Kelly, Kelly, Kathryn, Brown, & Kelly, 1999; NolenHoeksema, 2001), some have revealed the opposite - that males get higher points than do females in the BDI. …