Depression, fear and panic attack: does studying make you mentally ill?

Almost half a million students are mentally ill

Statistics published last year showed that six mental illnesses were among the twelve top diagnoses for sick leave. But not only more and more workers, but also increasing numbers of students are mentally ill.

More and more young adults suffer from mental illnesses

Exams, fear of the future and constant pressure to perform: More and more young adults in Germany suffer from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders or panic attacks. As the 2018 Barmer Medical Report shows, the proportion of 18- to 25-year-olds with mental diagnoses increased by 38 percent between 2005 and 2016 alone, and by 76 percent among those with depression.

Increasing time and performance pressure

According to a message from the health insurance company, even among students who were previously considered to be a largely “healthy” group, more than one in six (17 percent) is now affected by a psychological diagnosis. That corresponds to around 470,000 people.

"There are many indications that there will be significantly more mentally ill young people in the future," said Prof. Dr. Christoph Straub, CEO of Barmer.

“Especially with the aspiring academics, time and performance pressure increase continuously, there are also financial worries and fears for the future. Above all, more low-threshold offers can help prevent mental illness from the outset. ”

Older students are particularly at risk

According to the information, the risk of depression increases significantly with increasing age.

At the age of 18, 1.4 percent of students contracted depression for the first time, compared to 3.2 percent of non-students. A good ten years later, however, the proportion was 3.9 percent among students and 2.7 percent among non-students.

This means that older students are particularly at risk. As the health insurance company writes, mental illnesses could also have an influence on whether young people will start studying later on.

"Young people with a mental disorder at the age of 17 are less likely to start studying in the following years by about a third," said Prof. Joachim Szecsenyi, author of the medical report and managing director of the aQua Institute in Göttingen.

Psychotherapy is not required for every bad phase

From the Barmer's point of view, more low-threshold offers are needed that avoid mental illness and reach young adults early, in whom depression or anxiety has already broken out.

“Those affected by shame often avoid going to the doctor. We therefore see great potential in online offers, especially if they are anonymous and accommodate the usage habits of the generation of smartphones, ”explained Straub.

According to its own statements, the health insurance company focuses on avoiding mental illnesses. For example, online training is offered that can successfully prevent depression.

This would also reduce the disproportionate use of limited psychotherapeutic places with only “minor” problems, in order to create space for those affected who need urgent support.

"You don't need a psychotherapist in every bad phase," says Straub. The background is that, according to the doctor's report, 28 percent of young adults in a mild depressive episode use psychotherapy from a resident therapist.

The rate is only slightly higher for those with severe depression.

“General practitioners play an important role as pilots, since mentally ill young people quickly need professional help. In addition, psychotherapists need to be even more willing to take care of these patients, ”said study author Szecsenyi. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and Depression - Patrick McKeown (January 2022).