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Students with depression twice as likely to drop out of college
Date:7/6/2009

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---College students with depression are twice as likely as their classmates to drop out of school, new research shows.

However, the research also indicates that lower grade point averages depended upon a student's type of depression, according to Daniel Eisenberg, assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

There are two core symptoms of depression---loss of interest and pleasure in activities, or depressed mood---but only loss of interest is associated with lower grade point averages.

"The correlation between depression and academic performance is mainly driven by loss of interest in activities," Eisenberg said. "This is significant because it means individuals can be very depressed and very functional, depending on which type of depression they have. I think that this can be true for many high achieving people, who may feel down and hopeless but not lose interest in activities.

"Lots of students who have significant depression on some dimension are performing just fine, but may be at risk and go unnoticed because there is no noticeable drop in functioning."

Students with both depression and anxiety had especially poor academic performance.

"If you take a student at the 50th percentile of the GPA distribution and compare them to a student with depression alone, the depressed student would be around the 37th percentile---a 13 percent drop," Eisenberg said. "However, a student with depression and anxiety plummets to about the 23rd percentile, a 50 percent drop."

In the study, Eisenberg and his colleagues conducted a Web survey of a random sample of approximately 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students about a range of mental health issues in fall 2005, and conducted a follow-up survey with a subset of the sample in fall 2007.

The dropout rate for University of Michigan students is about 5 percent per
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Contact: Laura Bailey
baileylm@umich.edu
734-647-1848
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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