Depression population, college and university students have found

Depression among college
and university students had become an extremely prevalent and widespread
problem around the world. When compare to the general population, college and
university students have found to experience a higher rate of stress and
depression, and also poorer sleep quality (Postans & Pidgeon, 2016).
According to Sarokhani et al. (2013), college and university students are a group
of people that is experiencing a critical transitory period going from
adolescence to adulthood, and that can be one of the most stressful life events.
Besides, attending college or university can be considered as a new chapter in
life. It can be challenging for students while they trying to fit in, enduring
loads of assessments and assignments, trying to maintain good grades, or planning
for their future. These often bring stress to the students, and as a reaction
to the stress, some students get depressed. According to a research, from the
year of 2008 to 2010, there were 8.4% of college and university students aged between
18 to 22 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year (National
Survey on Drug Use and Health NSDUH, 2012). Another study conducted in
Malaysia showed that undergraduate students who experience moderate to
extremely severe level of depression are at the range from 13.9% to 19.3%, and
those who experience moderate to extremely severe level of stress are ranging
from 12.9% to 21.6% (Teh, Ngo, Zulkifli, Vellasam, & Suresh, 2015). Study
has found that these numbers has increased year by year in term of statistic,
as well as severity (Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Therefore, understanding the behaviour
and exposures that contribute to the causes of stress and depression among college
and university students is of utmost important. However, unlike other
infectious disorders or physical illnesses, the causes of stress and depression
are less straightforward (Caspi et al., 2003). As past research suggested that
there is a huge number of college and university students reported experiencing
sleep problems, and have found that sleep quality, depression, and stress can individually
affect university students (Milojevich & Lukowski, 2016), hence this study
aims to examine whether these three variables are related to each other.


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Sleep quality. To further
understand more about this study, first, we need to understand the operational
definition of the variables included. Although the word ‘sleep quality’ is
pervasively used by many, however it is difficult to define and does not have a
clear definition. The key determinants of a good sleep quality often included a
wide range of positive outcomes such as having a good night’s sleep and waking
up feeling satisfied, have better psychological functioning, able to get
sufficient duration of sleep and wake up feeling rested, and able to make it
through the day without experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness (Harvey,
Stinson, Whitaker, Moskovitz, & Virk, 2008).

Depressive symptoms. According
to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition
(DSM-5), individuals who experience major depressive disorder are characterized
with the presence of at least five depressive symptoms during the same 2-week
period and also represent a change from previous functioning (American
Psychiatric Association, 2013). The symptoms presented can be: 1) Having a
depressed mood most of the day and nearly every day that is reported by either the
self or observations by others; 2) Loss of interest or pleasure in all or
almost all activities; 3) Experiencing weight loss when not dieting; 4) Insomnia
or hypersomnia; 5) Retardation or psychomotor agitation that is observed by
others; 6) Fatigue or loss of energy; 7) Feeling of worthless; 8) Unable to
concentrate; 9) Having suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation or plan to commit
suicide. And these symptoms are able to impact a person’s daily functioning. In
layman term, people who experience depression often present with low and
negative mood, having lack of energy and interest to do things, feeling low
self-worth, and/or have difficulty to make decision and concentrate
(Ayuso-Mateos, Nuevo, Verdes, Naidoo, & Chatterji, 2010).

Stress. According to
Wahed and Hassan (2017), stress is the feeling of strain and pressure.

It has been defined as
an uncomfortable emotional experience that can results in psychological and
biological changes that put a person at risk for diseases such as stroke, heart
attack and even mental illnesses. When a person is stressed out, he/she may
experience nausea, diarrhea, and/or headache (Jarinto, 2011). Based on the
Yerkes-Dodson Law, small amount of stress can be seen as healthy and beneficial
as it able to help a person to strive towards performing better. However, when
the level of stress is above the optimal level, it can disrupt and impair the
performance (McDonald, 2001).

Literature Review

and Depressive Symptoms. Stress
can be grouped into two categories: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute
stress is the short-term stress such as experiencing a traffic jam or having an
argument with the parent. But if you are a bus driver where your job requires
you to stuck in numerous traffic jams almost every day, or you have a bad
relationship with your parent that both of you argue constantly, these examples
of acute stress can turn into chronic stress (Fortunato & Harsh, 2006). So,
can stress cause depression? Based on McGonagle & Kessler (1990)’s
research, they interviewed 1755 participants and found that chronic stressors
are stronger predictor of depressive symptoms when compared to acute stressors
(as cited in Hammen, 2005). Whether it is chronic stress or acute stress, they
have direct effects toward one’s mood. The symptoms of lowered mood that one experience
may include irritability, unable to concentrate, or having sleep disruption. According
to Nestler et al. (2002), depression is often stated as a stress-related
disorder. People who experience some form of stress often found to experience
episodes of depression. There are many possible causes of depression such as
hormones and genetics, and stress per se is insufficient to cause depression.
It is the stressful life events that one experience put one into the risk of
developing depression (Van Praag, 2005).