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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 148-153

Screening of stress, anxiety, depression, coping, and associated factors among Engineering students

1 Department of Psychiatry, Shri Shankaracharya Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, India
2 Department of Civil Engineering, New Horizon Institute of Technology and Management, Thane, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission13-Feb-2020
Date of Decision27-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance05-May-2020
Date of Web Publication25-Nov-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sachin Ratan Gedam
Department of Psychiatry, Shri Shankaracharya Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhilai, Chhattisgarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_6_20

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Background: Stress is a common factor among college students who are subjected to different kind of stressors. The psychological effects of stress, anxiety, and depression, often referred to as “negative emotions,” lead many students down a path of hardship, and it may lead to potentially unfavorable outcomes. Objectives: The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression and to find out the sources of stressor and coping strategies to deal with stress and their correlation with Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) scores among Engineering students. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted among 150 students of Bapurao Deshmukh Engineering College from Sevagram, district Wardha, Maharashtra, India. All the students were assessed through semi-structured pro forma, DASS, coping inventory for stressful situation, and sources of academic stress among the students for data collection. Results: The prevalence of stress, anxiety, and depression was found to be 29.3%, 78%, and 59.3%, respectively. The most common source of stressor was academic factors, and coping strategy was task-oriented adopted by the students to deal with their stress. The significant correlations were reported between stress score and gender, satisfaction with academic performance, regularity of attendance; between anxiety score and satisfaction with academic performance; and between depression score and addiction other than smoking. Furthermore, stress and depression were significantly correlated with emotion-oriented strategy. Furthermore, DASS scores were correlated with all sources of stressors. Conclusion: Students are susceptible to different stressors during a study period; hence, there is a need to address these issues to decrease the burden and increase performance.

Keywords: Anxiety, coping strategies, depression, engineering students, stress

How to cite this article:
Gedam SR, Saklecha PP, Babar V. Screening of stress, anxiety, depression, coping, and associated factors among Engineering students. Ann Indian Psychiatry 2020;4:148-53

How to cite this URL:
Gedam SR, Saklecha PP, Babar V. Screening of stress, anxiety, depression, coping, and associated factors among Engineering students. Ann Indian Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Apr 20];4:148-53. Available from: https://www.anip.co.in/text.asp?2020/4/2/148/301436

  Introduction Top

The increasing pace of life, rushed, and competitive lifestyles means that stress is an integral part of human life. A person shows behavioral defenses in a state of adapting to stress which leads to changes in one's emotional and cognitive processes. Stress is often used synonymously with negative life events or life experiences. Scientific research offers various perspectives on stress and anxiety.[1],[2] Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has emotional and physical effects and can create positive or negative influence on us.[3] Student is subjected to different kind of stressors, such as uncertain future, pressure of academics with an obligation of success, and difficulties envisaged for integration into the system. These students face several problems which may affect their learning ability and academic performance.[4] Individuals experience stress from inside and outside the factors. Inside stress factors can be psychological tension about the future and unsafe events that may or may not take place and physical like sickness and illness. Outside factors include worrying psychological atmosphere such as bad relationships and deprived working situations or poor physical situations like cold and hot weather. The stresses have different kinds of symptoms such as emotional symptoms, body symptoms, and behavior symptoms.[5]

The main causes of stress in students include time concerns, classroom interactions, fear of failure, economic issues, ego threats, and unlimited expectation of parents upon their children. The impact of this stress will result in competitive, unpredictable, threatening, frightening, abusive, depressing and confusing situations, anxiety, stress, neurotic, and emotional problems.[6] Romantic relationship is another major source of stress. These common stressors may lead to the negative effects such as sleeplessness, conflicts, negative interpersonal interactions, depression, aggression, rejection, jealousy, and so on.[7] The engineering students have to face many problems and challenges during their course to attain the positive outcomes. They are exposed to a considerable amount of stress, which necessitates successful coping strategies. Students undergo stress during their college life, and they try out different coping strategies to cope with stressors. Teaching effective coping skills and identifying the level of stress will help college students to deal with their stress.[8] The coping strategies which adolescence use are seeking social support, distraction, problem-solving, self-reliance, emotion focused problem-solving, etc.[9]

Students are faced with several challenges in today's system ranging from elementary to tertiary level. College has tests, papers, quizzes, exams, and projects, etc., If time is not managed correctly to complete all these tasks, many students will experience stress. Globally, 1 out of every 10 students suffers significant distress. Seventy-two percent of students in India are unaware of how to deal with stress and its ill-effects.[10] A study conducted by Aasra reported that depression has increased from 2% to 12% among youth in the last 5 years.[11] College students are at a critical period where they will enter adulthood because after completing the study they need a good job for supporting their family. Thus, they need to enhance their stress management abilities to live a healthy life. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the levels of stress, anxiety, and depression among engineering students and to find out source of stressors and the coping strategies used by them and to identify their correlation with Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS) scores among them.

  Materials and Methods Top

A cross-sectional survey was conducted among Engineering students of Bapurao Deshmukh Engineering College, Sevagram of Wardha district, Maharashtra, India, in 2017. A total of 150 engineering students (2nd year) aged 18–26 years were selected through the simple random sampling. The study was conducted after obtaining approval from the ethics committee of college. The informed consent was taken from the students after explaining the nature and purpose of the study. Self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain the data as mentioned below:

  1. The semistructured pro forma that contains age, gender, religion, educational qualification, socioeconomic status, addiction status, attendance in classes, physical problems, and satisfaction with studies
  2. DASS-21:[12] It is a 21-item self-report questionnaire designed to measure the severity of core symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. It is not designed as a diagnostic tool, although the DASS may contribute to the diagnosis of depression or anxiety. It is not meant to replace a comprehensive clinical interview. Each item is scored from 0 to 3. It is a short-form version of the DASS (the long form has 42 items). DASS-21 is reported to have very good Cronbach's alpha value for depression and anxiety (0.84 and 0.74, respectively). The cutoff scores have been developed for defining mild/moderate/severe/extremely severe scores for each DASS scale [Table 1]
  3. Coping inventory for stressful situations-21:[13] It is assumed to assess coping by three basic coping strategies such as avoidance, emotion oriented, and task oriented. It contains 21 items with each subscale consists of 7 items measured on the 5-point Likert-scale. Higher score of each factor indicates the more frequent use and greater effectiveness of that specific coping strategy. It has also reported high internal consistencies for all the three subscales and also provide as a good factor structure
  4. Sources of academic stress among students:[14],[15] The questionnaire consisted of 30 items and potential stressors were divided into four categories such as relationship factors (6 items), personal factors (9 items), academic factors (9 items), and environmental factors (6 items). It was measured on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 = no stress to 5 = highly stressful. The higher score indicates more the specific stressor.

The data analysis was done using the IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 24.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp. IBM Corp. Released 2017. It was done by descriptive and inferential statistics using the Chi-square and t-tests. P < 0.05 is considered as statistically significant.
Table 1: DASS scores

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  Results Top

A total of 150 students of 2nd year engineering participated in the present survey. There were 57.3% males and 42.7% females with mean age of 20.52 (±1.55) years. Most of them were Hindu (81.3%) followed by Buddhist (18%) and Muslim (0.7%). Majority of them belonged to upper socioeconomic class (66%), were moderately satisfied with their academic performance (56.7%), had regular attendance (96%), no physical problems (90.7%), nonsmokers (93.3%), and no addiction other than smoking (34.67%) [Table 2].
Table 2: Sociodemographic data of engineering students

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The total prevalence (mild to very severe) of depression, anxiety, and stress was found to be 59.3%, 78%, and 29.3%, respectively [Table 3]. The coping strategies used by the students were task-oriented (25.64 ± 5.62) followed by avoidance (23.16 ± 5.36) and emotion-oriented (19.33 ± 5.47) [Table 4]. The most common stressors among engineering students were found to be academic factors (24.75 ± 8.92) followed by personal (17.32 ± 6.02), environmental (13.27 ± 5.57), and relationship factors (12.22 ± 4.91) [Table 5].
Table 3: Severity of depression, anxiety and stress scale among the students

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Table 4: Coping strategies of the engineering students

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Table 5: Source of stressors among the engineering students

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The addiction other than smoking was significantly correlated with depression score; satisfaction with academic performance was correlated with anxiety scores; and gender, satisfaction with academic performance, and regularity of attendance were correlated with stress scores (P <0.05) among the sociodemographic data [Table 6]. Among DASS scores, depression and stress were statistically significantly associated with emotion-oriented coping strategy (P <0.05), whereas anxiety was not correlated with any of coping strategy (P > 0.05) [Table 7].
Table 6: Association between sociodemographic variables and depression, anxiety and stress scale scores

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Table 7: Association between depression, anxiety and stress scale scores and coping strategies

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All source of stressors such as academic, personal, relationship, and environmental factors were statistically significantly correlated with DASS scores (P <0.05) [Table 8].
Table 8: Association between depression, anxiety and stress scale scores and sources of stress

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  Discussion Top

In the present survey, a total of 150 students participated, and the results reported that 11.3% had mild, 12.7% had moderate, and 5.3% had severe levels of stress. While, overall (mild to very severe) 59.3% and 78% of students had depression and anxiety. A study by Terina et al. showed that 66.2% of students had moderate level of stress, 20.5% had low level of stress, and 13.2% had high level of stress.[8] Pierceall and Keim in their study reported that 75% of the students were in moderate stress, 12% in high stress, and 13% in a low stress category.[16] Jafri et al. reported that engineering students had high and moderate levels of stress in 20.6% and 74.6%, respectively.[17] In other study, 24.2% of college students reported anxiety, 15.9% of students reported depression, and 30.6% of students reported stress.[18] Thus, most of the students faced anxiety, depression, and stress during their study period.

In the present study, most common coping strategy used by the students to cope with their stress was task oriented followed by avoidance and emotion oriented. Terina et al. showed that majority of students use self-distraction followed by positive reframing and acceptance as a method of coping with stress in their study.[8] Gaurav and Balamurugan in their survey observed that most of the respondents like to use social networking sites and listen to music to overcome stress as effective coping strategies. Furthermore, most respondents liked to smoke and drink to release tension and overcome stress as ineffective coping strategies. Ineffective coping strategies are those which harm the body and effective coping strategies are those which do not harm the body.[19] Balaji et al. reported that active coping strategies were used more than avoidant strategies by engineering students.[20]

In the present survey, the most common source of stressors for engineering students were found to be academic factors followed by personal, environmental, and relationship factors. Terina et al. showed that majority of the students were worried about future, followed by financial difficulties and study in general as source of stressors.[8] Bamuhair et al. also stated that worrying about the future and study in general were the major sources of stress among college students in their study.[21] The other studies reported that leading stressors experienced by undergraduate students are related to time management and scheduling, interpersonal relationships, healthy habits and self-expectations, work load, uncertainty about futures, poor learning conditions, and university standards.[22],[23],[24],[25]

In the present study, gender, satisfaction with academic performance, and attendance level were significantly correlated with stress; whereas depression and anxiety were significantly correlated with addiction other than smoking and satisfaction with academic performance respectively. Abdulghani et al. reported significant association of year of study, gender, and physical problems with the stress level.[26] Kulsoom and Afsar showed that there was a strong positive relationship of regular smoking with depression and anxiety among the students in their study. Furthermore, smoking and female sex appears to predict higher levels of depression, anxiety, or stress in the absence of an impending examination in university students.[27]

Coping strategies refer to the specific efforts, both psychological and behavioral that people employ to master, reduce tolerate, or minimize stressful events.[28] Avoidance-oriented coping strategies describes activities and cognitive changes aims at avoiding the stressful situation, whereas task-oriented coping is described as the purposeful task effort aimed at solving the problem or attempt to alter the situation. Emotion-oriented coping describes turning to religion, positive reinterpretation, acceptance, and seeking of emotional support.[29],[30] The emotion-oriented coping strategy was significantly correlated with depression and stress in the present study. Previous study reported that students who did not develop healthy-coping strategies were more likely to experience a high risk of health problems and can begin having issues with depression, anxiety, stress overload, and social conflicts.[10] Further, all the sources of stressor were found to be significantly correlated with depression, anxiety, and stress scores with higher mean value of academic factors. In a study by Agolla and Ongori, on university students, social problems like inadequate resources and environmental problems such as overcrowding in lecture halls were important stressors.[31]

There are variations observed in the results of our study and previous literature with respect to levels of stress, depression and anxiety; coping strategies; sources of stressor, and its correlations among the study participants. The differences observed in the findings of current and previous studies may be attributed to the variation in study population and methodological evaluation. There are certain limitations of this study. The findings cannot be generalized since this study was conducted in a single engineering college. The self-administered scales used and hence the results could be biased. Stress at different periods was not considered in this study. Social desirability bias and compounding factors such as the participants' personality or current emotional state may be present. This was a cross-sectional study, and small sample size was used.

  Conclusion Top

The findings of the present study suggest that many engineering students suffered from stress, anxiety, and depressive features during their study period. The most common source of their stressors was found to be academic factor, and task-oriented coping strategy was used by them to deal with their stress as coping mechanism. The management of these conditions is very important to improve the performance of students and overall productivity of the institution. Techniques such as biofeedback, yoga, life-skills training, mindfulness meditation, and psychotherapy have been found to be reducing stress among students. Availability of counselors among faculty may help the students to overcome stressful situations through stress management sessions and teaching various techniques. Further research should be conducted using tools such as hamilton depression rating scale (HAMD) for the proper diagnosis of conditions among the participants.

Ethical statement

This study was approved by Institutional Ethics Committee with reference number DMIMS(DU)/IEC/2016-17/3068 obtained on July 11,2016.

Declaration of Patient Consent

Patient consent statement was taken from each patient as perinstitutional ethics committee approval along with consenttaken for participation in the study and publication of thescientific results / clinical information /image withoutrevealing their identity, name or initials. The patient is awarethat though confidentiality would be maintained anonymitycannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7], [Table 8]


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