Background: This cross-sectional study investigated the impact of life satisfaction and happiness, as well as the prevalence and correlates of depressive symptoms in a large sample of university students.
Methods: We included 2338 students at 6 universities in 1 metropolitan city and 2 provinces of Korea. Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory, and scores of 16 or higher were categorized as the presence of depression. Various sociodemographic, life satisfaction, happiness, and clinical factors (alcohol consumption and sleep quality) were measured. According to the presence of depression, sociodemographic, life satisfaction, happiness, and clinical characteristics were compared using statistical analyses. Further, a logistic regression model was constructed to examine the impact of life satisfaction, happiness, and clinical factors on depression.
Results: Among participants, 13.4% were identified as having depression. Life satisfaction and happiness were associated with a lower risk of depression, while hazardous alcohol drinking and poor sleep quality were related to a higher risk of depression. In addition, female gender, subjective body shape as obese, and insufficient pocket money were found to be significant correlates of depressive symptoms.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated possible risk and protective factors of underlying depressive symptoms. Especially, our findings suggest that improvement in life satisfaction and happiness would be important in the prevention and management of depression. Our findings may contribute to developing specialized mental health programs for prevention, screening, and treatment of depression among university students.
Keywords: Alcohol consumption; Depressive symptoms; Happiness; Life satisfaction; Sleep quality; University students.