Students are taking pills for stress more and more

More and more students are trying to balance stress at universities with psychotropic drugs

The pressure to perform not only begins when you start working, but already during your studies. According to a survey, the proportion of students taking psychiatric drugs has risen sharply. Regarding antidepressants alone, prescriptions among students are said to have risen by a whopping 40 percent within four years. The reasons for this could be stress, financial worries or exam pressure, as the new study reforms hardly leave any time for personal development and learning.

According to an evaluation published today by the Techniker Krankenkasse, more and more students in Germany are swallowing medicines in order to apparently counter the stress at universities. According to the health insurance fund, "every fifth drug that a student is prescribed is a remedy for diseases of the nervous system". The TK had evaluated the health situation of students between 20 and 35 years of age using its own documents.

Daily doses increased by 55 percent
While a student took an average of 8.7 daily doses of psychiatric drugs or psychologically active agents in 2006, the daily dose in 2010 was already 13.5. This corresponds to a can increase of 55 percent. For comparison: contemporaries who are already working as employees were given an average of 9.9 daily doses. Here, too, the health insurance company recorded an increase of 39 percent, which, however, was lower than among the students.

Extrapolated, one student took medication for 65 days in 2010. In contrast, workers in the same age groups took medication for an average of 72 days. The proportion of antidepressants among university students is alarmingly high. Here, prescription rates rose by more than 40 percent compared to 2006. Every fifth student suffered from a mental illness. The rate is the same as for young workers. Every fifth person was diagnosed with a mental disorder such as depression.

Student women are affected at 30 percent more often than men (13 percent). Other studies indicate that men are affected almost as often, but go to the doctor less often or only much later.

The older the students were, the more often diagnoses were made due to mental illness or disorders. It was found that the diagnoses among students with age are significantly more frequent than among those in employment.

Study reforms could be jointly responsible
The Techniker Krankenkasse had already reported in the health report 2011 that more and more students suffer from mental illnesses. TK boss Prof. Dr. Norbert Klusen suspects that the latest reforms in academic training do not “leave the students without a trace”. In addition, a recent Forsa study among around 1,000 male and female university students showed that one in two suffer from symptoms of stress. Around 50 percent said they "feel stressed often or constantly".

As the main cause, the respondents stated that exam pressure, lack of time and financial worries were decisive. The students often complained of complaints such as restlessness, headache, fatigue, exhaustion, nervousness and problems falling asleep. One in ten also admitted that they had already taken psychiatric drugs to reduce stress. Many of those affected complained about the shortening of their studies. With the introduction of the new degree programs, there was hardly any freedom left for learning and personal development. (sb)

Also read:
Does your studies make you mentally ill?
Stress: trigger and impact
More and more students are turning to Ritalin
Food for the brain: high performance through nutrition
Increase in mental illness among adolescents

Image: Stephanie Hofschlaeger /

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