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One In Three Female Grad Students Report Being Depressed

A third of female grad students report suffering from depression and anxiety, a survey by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio reveals.

According to data gathered from 2,279 individuals taking their masters and doctorate degrees, 41 percent of female grad students say they are suffering from depression and 43 percent say they experience moderate to severe anxiety. Meanwhile, 35 percent of male grad students report being depressed and 34 percent report experiencing anxiety.

Notably, 57 percent of transgender or “gender-nonconforming” grad students say they are depressed while 55 percent experience anxiety.

In general, grad students are six times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general population.

A few suggestions have been put forward to try to explain the alarmingly high instance of depression among grad students, especially among women. Trainee-adviser relationship has been cited as one; 50 percent of graduate students who reported suffering from anxiety and depression feel they don’t receive enough support and mentorship from their advisers.

Work-life balance could also play a part, owing to the extremely hectic schedule of graduate students. “Work-life balance is hard to attain in a culture where it is frowned upon to leave the laboratory before the sun goes down,” authors Teresa Evans and Lindsay Bira wrote, according to the UT Health website. Another factor could be the painful financial costs of higher education, according to Moneyish.

For women in particular, the caregiving status of many women in grad school — many of whom are mothers — may also be another contributory factor to high occurrence of depression and anxiety among them. Evans told Moneyish, “We know that women, as caregiving beings, take on a lot of burden in caring for others, whether those be our family members or our colleagues in a lot of cases. We are programmed that way.”

The results of this survey complement earlier conclusions confirming the prevalence of depression among grad students. One study from UC Berkeley, conducted in 2015, found that almost half of all grad students suffered from depression. This follows another study in 2005 that concluded 10 percent of those who attended grad school had contemplated suicide, according to Quartz.

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