Student gender and depression It can be expected that, in general, the prevalence of depression in females is higher than that of males in the general population (Piccinell & Wilkinson, 2000). Nelon-Hoeksema, Larson and Grayson (1999), in their study on gender differences of depression, reported that the reasons for these differences remain unclear, whereas gender differences in depressive disorders are well documented in many studies. More specifically, a twin study in this area has shown that there is no relationship between gender difference in depression and genetic risk, and that factors are more likely to relate to environmental aspects, namely family history, social support, economic situation and life events (Tenant, 2002). In reviewing the findings of gender differences of the prevalence of depression in students, the empirical studies have reported different results.
The majority of these studies have found that gender is a major factor with regard to depression among students. Several recent studies about have shown that there was no difference in the rates of depression in male and female students. That means that gender does not play a role in the rate of depression. For example, a recent study (Byaram & Bilgel, 2008) on the prevalence of depression in Turkey has shown that there was no difference in the score rate with regard to depression in male and female university students.
Other recent studies by Arslan et al. (2009) and Rosal, Ockene, Barrett and Hebert (1997), on the prevalence of depression in university students, have found that there was no significant difference between the sexes. Additionally, a more recent study (Yusoff et al., 2013), on the prevalence and factors related to depression in 743 Malaysian university students, indicated that male and female students show nearly same degree of symptoms of depression, and difference in gender was not a significant factor in rates of depression. Similarly, findings from samples of Turkish university students using “Beck Depression Inventory” and “Public Health questionnaire” recorded the rates of depression between male and female students (Bostanci et al., 2005). Also, a more recent study by Haldorsen et al. (2014) of Danish medical students reported that female students recorded slightly higher rates compared to male students, but these differences between the sexes was not significant.
However, a large number of studies about students’ symptoms of depression conclude that male and female students do have different rates of depression. Most of these studies indicate that the rate of depression is higher in female students compared to male students, but the reason for this was not clearly identified. In a recent study by Adewuya et al.
(2006), on the prevalence of depression among Nigerian students using the interview instrument Mini International Neuropsychiatric, there was a significant difference between the sexes in rates of depression among university students, with rates in female students two times greater than male students. Moreover, in the most recent systematic review by Ibrahim et al. (2013), using the results of 24 recent articles from 1990 to 2010 about depression in university students, a majority of these articles (16) reported gender differences in the prevalence of depression among students. Fifteen of these articles showed that the rate of depression in female students was higher in comparison to male students; only one article reported a higher rate for men.
In addition, Dahlin et al. (2005) and Ceyhan, Ceyhan and Kurtyilmaz (2009) pointed out that female students had a greater risk of depression compared to male students. Eisenberg, Gollust, Golberstein and Hefner (2007) observed the same result as they mentioned that symptoms of depression were higher in female undergraduate students compared to male undergraduate students. Student’s age and depression In terms of student’s age, some studies in particular looked at the relationship between age and depression in students. A study on depression among Malaysian university students pointed out that the prevalence of depression was higher in older students compared to younger students (Shamsuddin et al., 2013).
This result also was emphasized in other studies; senior university students have greater rates of depression relative to beginners or first year students (Bostanci et al., 2005; Khawaja & Duncanson, 2008). In contrast, studies in this area (Bayram and Bilgel, 2008; Tomoda et al.
, 2000) have shown that students in their final year of university have lower levels of depression compared to new students. It is hypothesized that this difference in the above findings might be due to using different samples of students, and different methods of measuring depression. It is somewhat surprising that no relationship was found in this condition. One study indicated that the level of depression in older students is nearly the same as younger students (Lester, 1990). This would indicate there is no significant relationship between a student’s age and the prevalence of depression.