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From high stress levels to limited resources, our list of the top 44 most depressed colleges sheds light on the challenges facing students today. Read on for insights and tips by Depression Open Talks.


According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 30% of students claim to have experienced episodes of depression “so severe that it adversely impaired their academic performance.” However, compared to the overall population, college students had a substantially lower suicide rate. One in five college students, according to CBS News, are so stressed that they have thought about committing themselves.

You can’t deny that our culture today is demanding, especially when we’re in college. Additionally, the economy is struggling, causing many people to have trouble finding work. This causes severe depression and excruciating pain in many people.

Parents want their children to be happy, successful adults. Parents can at times push their children way too hard. While encouraging your child is a positive thing, overdoing it can result in suffering for the child. It’s okay to challenge students, but there is a distinction between challenging students and being overly demanding of them.

Many believe that they should end up in a mental hospital and experience tremendous depression if they perform poorly in school. They experience severe failure. They put a lot of effort and time into their studies, but they still failed.

We need to assist students in realizing their beauty and unique gift. They simply need to identify their gift. They don’t have to put themselves under excessive pressure and stress, which can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. To identify the top schools with the highest incidence of depression, we collected statistical analysis and reviewed studies.

What is Depression in Colleges?

A protracted feeling of sadness and a lack of interest in routine activities are characteristics of depression. Clinical depression can negatively affect both your mental and physical well-being, leading to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression affects one’s emotional health, cognitive abilities, and impulsive behaviors.

The time spent in college is thrilling & challenging for many students. Leaving home, studying, and adjusting to a whole new schedule are all significant sources of stress for many college students. Some students may experience depression as they strive to cope with the onslaught of new difficulties. 

The Roots of Depression among College Students

Lifestyle Changes

Research has found a connection between mental wellness, sound sleep, and physical activity levels. The symptoms of depression can be lessened by frequent exercise, a balanced diet, and normal sleep patterns.

However, it might be challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle while attending college because of cafeteria food, studying late into the night, parties, etc. Addiction to drugs and alcohol also causes depression.

The atmosphere at college tends to favor wild partying. If a student succumbs to the traps and engages in them frequently, it might result in dangerous behaviors, sadness, and mental health problems.


Many things that cause college students to worry, but the most common ones include grades, money, deadlines, etc. Plus, those enrolling in universities with unresolved mental health difficulties struggle due to a lack of a support network.

Although an individual’s level of stress cannot be measured, stressful environments are well documented. There are five factors taken into consideration: the high cost, curriculum competitiveness, acceptance rate & campus crime.

Anyone prone to depression won’t be able to handle the stress for very long. They do cross the line as a result. Drug usage, sleep deprivation, interpersonal tension, excessive work, and other factors are among the stressors.

Before enrolling in college, you as parents or teachers must check your child for any potential depressive disorders. Preventive measures help the problem by successfully identifying those who are in danger.

Students who are heavily dependent on their parents typically struggle with the shift and tend to experience depression. Because they lack fundamental survival skills & they are unable to accept failure. The ability to overcome obstacles and find solutions to everyday issues must be taught to the kids. If they can find solutions to their issues, they will feel more self-assured and resilient.

Genetic and Personality

The genetic makeup is crucial as depression can run in families. Although your genes may be linked to depression, this doesn’t guarantee you will develop depressive symptoms.

Plus, personality typically plays a role. Stress is too much for people with low self-esteem, and they typically experience depression more frequently. Additionally, people with pessimistic outlooks are more likely to experience depression.

Fear of the Future

People are constantly fearful of the unknown. For instance, college students have no idea how they will live, pay their expenses, or find employment once they graduate. College students fear that they won’t adjust well to the demanding adult world. When one observes their friends shifting successfully while they struggle, it gets worse.

Another problem might be a lack of motivation or direction. The best advice is to work hard while attending college to find your calling. Avoid comparing your life and experience to that of your peers as well. 

Associating with depressed people

One has a significant likelihood of becoming depressed if they are among other depressed people. 

How College Students Are Affected by Depression 

Depression is very concerning because it might hurt one’s health and academic performance. Others may experience extreme depression that prevents them from going about their regular lives.

Depression in college students is often accompanied by unhealthy behaviors. Most use substance and alcohol misuse as a coping mechanism for stress. At the end of the semester, drug misuse among students typically rises. Pressure from deadlines and heavy course loads is to blame.

Depressed students don’t drink as much as some of their peers do. They do, however, engage in hazardous activities like unprotected or street drug use, etc. 

How To Spot Depression In College Students And Treat It

Teachers and parents should be connected to students as the college environment is frequently stressful. Anyone exhibiting signs of depression has to be sent right away to a counselor.

Due to the social stigma associated with depression, the majority of them don’t seek help. Before beginning the treatment, the doctor must do a mental health evaluation. Examining the student’s performance, family medical history, and developmental stage helps identify the underlying cause. If you suspect that something is off, don’t be reluctant to contact a guidance counselor as soon as you can.

Consult doctor or mental health specialist

Talk therapy and antidepressant medication are the popular treatments for depression. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep are further ways to manage depression.

Instead of improving depression, alcohol, and narcotics make it worse. You should use stress management techniques as a student, such as hanging out with friends. Additionally, never conceal your emotions. To your family and friends, always be honest. You’ll feel better as a result.

Top 7 Most Depressed Colleges

Harvard University

In recent years, up to 50% of the student body has indicated that they have experienced depression. Furthermore, the poll found that between 2014 and 2018, the proportion of Harvard undergraduates who reported suffering from depression or anxiety jumped from 22% to 31%.

Cornell University

It’s more likely than not that Cornell students will experience periods of depression or worry at some point during their studies there. That Cornell University is routinely rated as one of the best in the world suggests that maintaining such a stellar reputation cannot be simple.

The university was compelled to hire security officers to keep watch on the bridges encircling Cornell’s gorges to prevent students from jumping off them. Although no one can definitively answer, it is plausible to assume that stress played a role in these incidents.

Wake Forest University

Its moniker is “Work Forest” among Wake Forest University students. Why? Because it’s challenging to obtain a break at this institution.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Despite being one of the most respected universities in the United States, MIT is well recognized for its widespread criminal activity. A 2019 analysis shows a rising mental health crisis among graduate students at MIT and across the country. Graduate students suffer from depression and 41% of those suffer from anxiety.

University of Chicago

The university currently claims 91 Nobel Prize winners. It’s well-known for its location, demanding academics, and excellent enrichment activities, among other things. For 12 years, former US president Barack Obama was a law professor there.

New York University (NYU)

NYU was established as a private institution by some New Yorkers and is rather exclusive. It is well-known for its metropolitan setting, and Alan Greenspan, among others, has praised its superior commercial and artistic achievements (Anne Hathway, Lady Gaga)

University of Pennsylvania

In 1740, Benjamin Franklin established the university. It has an Ivy-level social standing. With the effort and attitude of the play, the pupils here actively participate in the curriculum and extracurricular activities. Overall, the academic program and structure at the institution are tough.

Other 37 most depressed colleges

  1. Stanford University
  2. University of South Florida
  3. Boston University
  4. Ohio State University
  5. Arizona State University
  6. University of Central Florida
  7. University of Southern California
  8. Yale University
  9. UCLA
  10. Carnegie Mellon
  11. Emory University
  12. Johns Hopkins University
  13. University of Missouri – Columbia
  14. UC Berkeley
  15. Dartmouth College
  16. WUSTL
  17. Princeton University
  18. University of Wisconsin – Madison
  19. UC San Diego
  20. UC Irvine
  21. University of Notre Dame
  22. Duke University
  23. Rutgers University
  24. Temple University
  25. Vanderbilt University
  26. Indiana University
  27. University of Illinois
  28. Florida State University
  29. University of Houston
  30. University of Maryland
  31. CU Boulder
  32. University of Michigan
  33. NC State
  34. University of Georgia
  35. Virginia Tech
  36. University of Alabama
  37. University of Minnesota

Most depressed colleges: Conclusion

In conclusion, mental health challenges among college students are a growing concern, and our list of the top 44 most depressed colleges highlights the need for greater support and resources. Whether you are a student, parent, or educator, it is important to raise awareness about mental health on campus and work towards creating a healthier and more supportive learning environment. By addressing these issues head-on, we can help students thrive and succeed both academically and personally.


5 Most Depressed Colleges in the United States (FAQs) | 20239 min read. (2022, July 21). School & Travel. Retrieved April 29, 2023, from https://schoolandtravel.com/depressed-colleges-in-the-united-states/

Hill, K. (2019, May 29). Top 50 Colleges With The Most Depressed Student Bodies. Humans of University. Retrieved April 29, 2023, from https://humansofuniversity.com/university-life/top-50-colleges-with-the-most-depressed-student-bodies/

Willett, E. (n.d.). Most Depressed Colleges In The USA: The Top 55 Colleges. American News Report. Retrieved April 29, 2023, from https://americannewsreport.com/most-depressed-colleges/

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