Depression in Asian-American and Caucasian undergraduate students

J Affect Disord. 2010 Sep;125(1-3):379-82. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.02.124. Epub 2010 Mar 19.


Background: Depression is a serious and often under-diagnosed and undertreated mental health problem in college students which may have fatal consequences. Little is known about ethnic differences in prevalence of depression in US college campuses. This study compares depression severity in Asian-American and Caucasian undergraduate students at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

Methods: Participants completed the nine item Patient Health Questionnaire and key demographic information via an anonymous online questionnaire.

Results: Compared to Caucasians, Asian-Americans exhibited significantly elevated levels of depression. Furthermore, Korean-American students were significantly more depressed than Chinese-American, other minority Asian-American, and Caucasian students. In general, females were significantly more depressed than males. Results were upheld when level of acculturation was considered.

Limitations: The demographic breakdown of the student population at UCSD is not representative to that of the nation.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that outreach to female and Asian-American undergraduate students is important and attention to Korean-American undergraduates may be especially worthwhile.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation
  • Adolescent
  • Asian / psychology*
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / ethnology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / ethnology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / psychology
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Students / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • White People / psychology*
  • Young Adult