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Stress and Depression

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A laboratory study was conducted to compare first-year university students' scores on the Depression A

nxiety Stress Scales (DASS, Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995, cited in Crawford & Henry, 2003) wit


h norms based on a general population (Crawford and Henry, 2003). Results replicated findings

in Wong, et al. (2006) that the students had higher levels of depression and anxiety than the norm

s for a general population, but there were no significant gender differences in depression and anx

iety levels. While there were significant relationships between the three DASS subscales, there w

ere no significant differences in the relationship of age with the DASS subscales.


Depression, Anxiety and Stress in First Year Psychology Students:

Principles of Psychology Lab Report

Did you know that eight years after being diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer, there rem

ains about a 3% chance you will die of a recurrence within the next two years - compared with a

bout a .001% chance that you will die had you been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, i.e., m

etastasis has occurred (Taylor, Davis, & Boyages, 2002)? In another words, after eight years, the

10-year survival rate is higher (almost certain) for those who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 ca

ncer than for those diagnosed with Stage 1 cancer. Why? because almost all of those diagnosed w

ith Stage 4 cancer have already died. What does this have to do with the finding that first-year un

iversity students suffer from greater psychological distress than other students (Adlaf, Gliksman,

Demers, Newton-Taylor, 1998, cited and interpreted in Wong et al., 2006)? The first-year student

s who become second-year students may not be any more or less distressed than they were durin

g their first year.

Of course, it's sad when anyone is distressed, but Wong et al.'s interpretation of the above

finding also should sadden anyone with respect for the scientific method. In addition, Wong et al.

(2006) interpreted findings of depression, anxiety, and stress in first-year university students (tho

ugh only small percentages of the 7915 participants were seriously disturbed) higher, than in stud

ies using norms that were representative of general populations [using the subscales of the Depre

ssion Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995, cited in Crawford & Henry, 2

003], as evidence that had "major implications" (p. 781) related to being a first-year student. The

researchers know nothing about the participants' depression, anxiety, or stress levels prior to ente

ring university or about how, for example, the levels compare with those who had graduated fro

m high school a year ago and have been slinging hamburgers ever since graduation. They also mi

sleadingly mixed previous studies of university students in general with those with information a


bout first-year students in particular (pp. 777-778) and were not surprised to find higher levels of

depression in males than in females (despite not noticing reverse findings using the DASS in rese



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