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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 35-39

Depression among students of a Nigerian University: Prevalence and sociodemographic correlates


1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication10-Oct-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. A Dabana
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Shika, Zaria
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/archms.archms_6_18

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  Abstract 

Background: Depression is a common health problem, ranking third after cardiac and respiratory diseases and several sociodemographic factors were found to be associated with it. It is prevalent among university students worldwide. This study assessed its prevalence and the sociodemographic factors associated with it among students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Nigeria. Methodology: A cross-sectional study conducted among 127 undergraduate students of ABU. Data were collected using a structured, self-administered Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and were analyzed using IBM-Statistical Software for Social Sciences, version 20.0. Results: Results indicated that 58.2% had depression, with 37.0%, 15.7%, 3.9%, and 1.6% having mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression, respectively. Sociodemographic factors (such as gender and age) were not found to be associated with depression among respondents (P = 0.964 and 0.246, respectively). Conclusion: Depression, at different levels of severity, was observed among respondents. Counseling and screening services for depression should be conducted on all new students entering the university. The treatment of depression should be made easily accessible to affected students. Further research on non-sociodemographic factors that could predispose to depression is recommended.

Keywords: Depression, factors, Nigerian, sociodemographic, students, university


How to cite this article:
Dabana A, Gobir A A. Depression among students of a Nigerian University: Prevalence and sociodemographic correlates. Arch Med Surg 2018;3:35-9

How to cite this URL:
Dabana A, Gobir A A. Depression among students of a Nigerian University: Prevalence and sociodemographic correlates. Arch Med Surg [serial online] 2018 [cited 2018 Dec 13];3:35-9. Available from: http://www.archms.org/text.asp?2018/3/1/35/243039


  Introduction Top


Mental health disorders, according to the World Health Organization, are one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Three of the 10 leading causes of disability in people between the ages of 15 and 44 are mental disorders, and the other causes are often associated with mental disorders.[1]

Depression is a common health problem, ranking third after cardiac and respiratory diseases as a major cause of disability.[2] University students are a special group of people that are enduring a critical transitory period in which they are going from adolescence to adulthood and can be one of the most stressful times in a person's life.[1] University life marks a transitional period for students, during which some students move away from family and home for the first time, lose the traditional adult supervision, and the traditional social support. They struggle to fit in, maintain good grades, and plan for the future while some might have to deal with financial difficulties for the first time in their lives. These changes have been recognized as risk factors for developing depression.[3],[4]

Evidence that suggests that university students are vulnerable to mental health problems has generated increased public concern in Western societies. Studies suggest that the prevalence of depression among university students is high and is on the increase, while the age of onset is on decline. Worst still, over two-thirds of young people do not talk about or seek help for mental health problems.[2],[5],[6]

Even though depression is a common problem worldwide, its prevalence varies from country to country and culture to culture and is influenced by different sociodemographic factors such as culture, gender, age, marital status, economic status, and educational status.[7] For example, in Ethiopia, a study showed that gender, study year, and family marital status were the best predictors of depression.[7] In the University of Nairobi, Kenya, it was significantly more common among the 1st year and married students; those who were economically disadvantaged and those living off campus. Other variables significantly related to higher depression levels included religion and course of the study.[8] In the University of Michigan, America, students aged 18–22 years; those who were single and those who grew up in a poor family were more depressed.[9] In a Cypriot University, it was more prevalent among female students.[10] In Harbin, North-Eastern China, students who were older, had a lower family income, and a lower level of mother's education were more susceptible to depression.[11] In a Sri Lankan University, a higher likelihood of depression was seen among males, older students, and those living in hostels (compared to home).[12]

Within the above-mentioned background, studies are needed to explore the magnitude and the associated factors contributing to depression among university students in our local setting. This study was, therefore, conducted to identify the sociodemographic factors associated with depression among university students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Nigeria. Findings of the study will help the university community and other stakeholders to design appropriate prevention and treatment intervention programs in a strengthened manner.


  Methodology Top


A cross-sectional descriptive study conducted in 2017, at ABU, a federal government university located in Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria. The university has two campuses: Samaru (main campus) and Kongo campus, in Zaria. Consisting of 13 faculties, 60 academic departments and 12 research institutes and specialized centers, the university offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in many fields of specialization and currently has a total of 42,283 undergraduate students.

A minimum sample size of 117 was obtained using the statistical formula for cross-sectional studies: N = Z2 pq/d2,[13] where p = Prevalence of depression from a previous study = 8.3% (0.083).[5] After correcting for nonresponse rate of 10%, the sample size became 129. However, a sample size of 131 was used for the study.

Proportionate allocation method was used to determine the number of students required for the study, per faculty. Simple random sampling was then used to select the students to whom the questionnaires were administered until the desired sample size was achieved.

Data were collected with the aid of structured, self-administered questionnaires with closed-ended and open-ended questions, using the Open Data Kit application (an Android app for filling out questionnaires). The questionnaire has 68 questions and seven sections: Section 1 – covers sociodemographic profile of respondent (age, sex, tribe, religion, marital status, level of study in university, and residence status while in university, monthly allowance); Section 2 – their anthropometry; Section 3 – social variables; Section 4 – academic variables; Section 5 – past experiences; Section 6 – religiosity, and Section 7 – depression assessment. Section 7 is an adaptation of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) which is used to make tentative diagnosis of depression in at-risk populations, for example, those with coronary heart disease or after stroke or university students. It is also used to monitor the severity of depression and response to treatment, and it has a 61% sensitivity and a 94% specificity in adults.[14] The PHQ-9 scores each of the nine DSM-IV criteria as “0” (not at all) to “3” (nearly every day). For each of the nine criteria, respondents are expected to read every detail of the alternatives and to circle the one which applies to them. Depending on the total scores obtained, respondents are assigned into five categories of depression severity: 0–4 none, 5–9 mild depression, 10–14 moderate depression, 15–19 moderately severe depression, and 20–27 severe depression.[14]

A computer-based software, International Business Machines Statistical Package for Social Science, Version 20.0 (IBM SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA), was used to analyze the data. Bivariate analysis was done using Chi-square test to assess the association between sociodemographic variables and depression. The level of statistical significance was set at a P ≤ 0.05 and the corresponding Chi-square value and degrees of freedom (df) were cited. Results are presented using tables and charts. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Health Research Ethics Committee of the ABU Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria (Reference No. ABUTHZ/HREC/UG/6). Consent was obtained from the respondents who were assured of strict confidentiality by ensuring anonymity.


  Results Top


A total of 131 questionnaires were administered out of which 127 were completely answered, giving a response rate of 96.9%.

[Table 1] shows the sociodemographic characteristics of the respondents. As shown in the table, 50.4% of the respondents were male and the rest were female. Majority of the respondents (58.3%) fell within the age group of 17–21 years. The least frequency (0.8%) was in the age group of 32–36 years. The lowest and highest ages of the respondents were 17 and 34, respectively. For the level of study, the highest proportion (33.8%) was 100 level students, while 600 level students had the least representation (2.4%). Only the two major faiths in Nigeria were represented in this study; with 66.9% of the respondents being of Islamic faith and 33.1% of them being Christians. The Hausa/Fulani ethnic group has the highest proportion of respondents (41.7%). Other tribes of respondents covered by the study include Ebira, Igala, Idoma, Egbura, Kanuri, Loh, Tiv, Kataf, Nupe, Igede, Basa, and Babur. Most of the respondents (94.5%) were single, and 88.2% were from an average economic background while 5.5% and 6.3% being above and below average, respectively. In terms of monthly allowance, those receiving <N10,000.00 (<$28) have the largest proportion (44.1%). Only 14.1% of respondents had monthly allowances of N30,000.00 ($83) or more. Majority of the respondents (82.7%) receive their allowances from their parents, while 11.8% provide for themselves. Majority of the respondents (88.2%) have parents who were still married; while 6.3% and 5.5% were separated and divorced, respectively. Majority of the respondents' parents attained tertiary level of education with 85.0% of their fathers and 61.4% of their mothers having tertiary level education. Most of the respondents (95.3%) reside in an urban setting, while 4.7% reside in a rural setting. Furthermore, while at school, 60.6% of respondents reside in the university hostel while 39.4% of them reside off campus.
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of respondents (n=127)

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[Figure 1] shows the level of depression among respondents. As shown in the figure, 58.2% of the respondents were found to have depression; 37.0%, 15.7%, 3.9%, and 1.6% having mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression respectively, according to the PHQ-9 scoring system.
Figure 1: Level of depression among respondents

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[Table 2] shows the association between depression and sociodemographic variables. As shown in the table, there is no statistically significant association between depression among respondents and their sociodemographic characteristics: gender (P = 0.964); age (P = 0.246); ethnicity (P = 0.078); religion (P = 0.788); year of study (P = 0.467); marital status (P = 0.802); parent's marital status (P = 0.332); body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.736); residence (P = 0.402); monthly allowance (P = 0.330), and source of allowance (P = 0.127).
Table 2: Association between respondents' sociodemographic variables and depression

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  Discussion Top


A cross-sectional descriptive study conducted among 127 undergraduate students of ABU, Zaria.

The study had more male respondents than female. The age range of respondents was 17–34 years, with a mean age of 21.34. The prevalence of depression was found to be 58.2%; with 37.0%, 15.7%, 3.9%, and 1.6% of respondents having mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression, respectively, using the PHQ-9 as a screening tool for depression.

Unlike other similar university-based studies, this study found no statistically significant association between depression and respondents' sociodemographic variables such as gender (P = 0.964); age (P = 0.246); ethnicity (P = 0.078); religion (P = 0.788); year of study (P = 0.467); marital status (P = 0.802); parent's marital status (P = 0.332); BMI (P = 0.736); residence (P = 0.402); monthly allowance (P = 0.330); and source of allowance (P = 0.127). On the contrary, the findings are consistent with that of other studies conducted among university students.

From our findings, gender (P = 0.964) and age (P = 0.246) were not associated with depression. This is similar to findings of a study among students of a western Nigerian university which showed that gender and age had no significant effect on the development of depression.[15] Similar findings were also documented among university students in China, Ethiopia, Turkey, America, South India, and Iran.[4],[5],[7],[9],[16],[17]

Our study found no statistically significant association between depression and marital status (P = 0.802); religion (P = 0.788); and place of residence of respondents (P = 0.402). This is similar to findings of studies among university students in Ethiopia, Egypt, and Iran.[1],[4],[14]

From our findings, year of study in the university was not associated with depression (P = 0.467). This is similar to the findings of a study among students of Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, which showed that depression was not statistically associated with the academic year.[16] However, in Turkey, it was found that 1st- and 2nd-year university students had higher depression scores than 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-year students.[5] Furthermore, in a South Indian university, depression was found to be associated with study year, with the 1st year students having a 2.32 times more risk of developing depression, compared to 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-year students.[16]

Our findings showed that marital status of respondent's parents (P = 0.332) and monthly allowance of respondents (P = 0.330) were not associated with depression. This is similar to findings of a study in Tabriz, Iran, where parental divorce and sufficient allowance did not show a significant association with depression.[18]

This study did not find a statistical association between depression and BMI (P = 0.736). Same was seen in the study among university students in Western Nigeria and Egypt, which found no association between obesity and depression.[1],[15]

One limitation of the study is that responses depend on the truthfulness of the respondents since some respondents might not be forthcoming with information. Using cross-sectional design and using PHQ-9 for diagnosis of depression are other limitations. Lengthy questionnaire bias is another possible limitation.


  Conclusion Top


A substantial proportion of the study population (58.2%) was found to be affected by depression with 37.0%, 15.7%, 3.9%, and 1.6% of respondents having mild, moderate, moderately severe, and severe depression, respectively. However, unlike other similar university-based studies, no sociodemographic factor was associated with depression among respondents in this study. It is, therefore, recommended that preventive and curative services in the study area should target students of all sociodemographic profile. Further research on nonsociodemographic factors that could predispose to depression is recommended. This will aid in formulating further policies on prevention and control of depression in the study area.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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