The Association Between Depression Severity and Social Stigma in Undergraduate Students
This poster was presented at the 30th annual Psych Congress, held Sept. 16-19, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Despite the alarming prevalence of depression on American college campuses, it remains controversial in discussions of student health. The stigma surrounding depression, defined as either personal or perceived, may serve as an obstacle to treatment-seeking behavior. Currently, little scientific literature exists on the quantification of stigma, especially in relation to depression. Therefore, a cross-sectional study of undergraduate students at a metropolitan university in California was conducted to investigate the relationship between depression severity and stigma. The questionnaire disseminated was comprised of a socio-demographic section, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and Depression Stigma Scale (DSS). The responses were analyzed using IBM SPSS 22 and Microsoft Excel 15.11.2 such that of the 1080 total respondents, 36.3% exhibited moderate to severe depression. While students with moderate to severe depression had lower average personal stigma scores (p=0.023), their average was higher for perceived stigma (p=0.002). Female (p<0.001), LGBT (p<0.001), upperclassmen (p<0.001), and non-Christian demographics (p<0.001) were each associated with higher depression severity. Male (p<0.001), heterosexual (p<0.001), unemployed (p<0.05), Caucasian (p<0.001), older (p<0.05), and single-race (p<0.05) demographics exhibited more stigmatized personal beliefs compared to perceived beliefs. These findings suggest that the prevalence of depression among undergraduates is higher than previously indicated. Moreover, students who are moderately to severely depressed exhibit more perceived stigma. In order to effectively combat depression in undergraduate students, on-campus services must address the nature of stigmatized beliefs.