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October 19, 2009

Dramatic increase in bipolar depression and depression in colleges

Following last Friday's post (Initial onset of Bipolar during College years), I heard an interesting NPR story today on "Morning Edition." The story focused on students at Stanford University who are taking the initiative to help educate other students about the prevalence of depression and bipolar depression in colleges across the United States. These students have created theatrical productions which touch upon social issues including the wide prevalence of mental illness on college campuses. Their intended audience: patients who may be reticent to accept or discuss their illness and people in dorm rooms who often unknowingly create hostile environments for students with depression or bipolar depression.

The story also touches upon on the dramatic increase in the severity and incidence of depression and bipolar depression among college students during the past ten years. According to surveys conducted by college counseling professionals across the U.S. during the past decade, there has been a 50% increase in the diagnosis of depression in college students across the U.S. Also, there are twice as many students taking psychiatric medicines compared to ten years ago. Stanford has responded to these facts and increased its campus based therapists from 10 - 16 during the past year.

The fact that these students are willing to raise awareness about mental illness is commendable. Despite the sea change in awareness of mental illnesses during the past 20 years, there remains a great deal of misunderstanding about depression and bipolar depression. For many people, particularly students, the very act of telling another person that you suffer from depression or bipolar depression requires courage and a willingness to reveal intimate personal information. Hats off to these Stanford students who are creating an empathetic and knowledgeable environment for students who suffer from bipolar depression and depression.

To access this story go to: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113835383&sc=emaf

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