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A new US–UK diagnostic project: mood elevation and depression in first-year undergraduates at Oxford and Stanford universities


Guy M Goodwin, Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK.


Objective:  To investigate differences in prevalence of mood elevation, distress and depression among first-year undergraduates at Oxford and Stanford universities.

Method:  An online survey was sent to Oxford and Stanford first-year undergraduate students for two consecutive years in the winter of 2005 and 2006. Students completed a survey that assessed mood symptoms and medication use.

Results:  Both universities had similar rates of distress by General Health Questionnaire (Oxford – 42.4%; Stanford – 38.3%), depression by Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders (Oxford – 6.2%; Stanford – 6.6%), and psychotropic and non-psychotropic medication usage (psychotropic: Oxford – 1.5%; Stanford 3.5%; non-psychotropic: Oxford – 13.3%; Stanford – 18%). Oxford had higher rates of mood elevation by Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) (Oxford – 4%; Stanford – 1.7%).

Conclusion:  Oxford and Stanford students have similar rates of mood distress, depression and general medication usage. Students at Oxford have a higher prevalence of MDQ scores that possibly indicate a bipolar disorder, while Stanford students are prescribed more psychotropics.