Analysis of an Egyptian study on the socioeconomic distribution of depressive symptoms among undergraduates

  • Ahmed K. IbrahimEmail author
  • Shona J. Kelly
  • Cris Glazebrook
Original Paper



Worldwide population surveys show that prevalence of mental disorders in developing countries was as common as in industrialized countries. College life is an important stage in every person’s life; unfortunately, it may be the time to experience depression for the first time. Latterly, there has been a steady increase in the number of university students diagnosed and treated as depressed patients. This paper presents the results of a study carried out on a representative sample of undergraduate students of an Egyptian University, which aimed to study the relationship between social factors and the occurrence of depression. It was assumed that the poorer the socio-economic background the higher the rates of depression.


Data were collected in 2004 from students at Assiut University using the Zagazig Depression scale (ZDS) and an Egyptian socio-economic status measure. This analysis, based on a refined version of the ZDS used STATA (v. 10.1.). Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate regression models were used to test for associations with the dimensions of SES and depression.


Thirty-seven percent of the students had symptoms scored above the threshold for moderate depression. In the fully adjusted model: faculty of study, father’s occupation, family income and number of persons per room were associated with depression in this sample.


The high prevalence of depressive symptoms among Egyptian students found in this study call attention to the need for a student counseling service offering mental health support. This service should particularly discover an approach for low affluence students.


Depressive symptoms University students Socioeconomic factors 



I am very grateful for the Assiut University administration and students for the help and support in this work. Special thanks for my Masters’ study supervisors: Prof. Hossny El-Gendawy, Prof. Mohamed, Hadhood, and Dr. Randa, Shams. It would not have been possible without the help and support of my colleagues in the department of community Health, Medical Faculty, Assiut University.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed K. Ibrahim
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Shona J. Kelly
    • 3
  • Cris Glazebrook
    • 4
  1. 1.Community Health School, Faculty of MedicineAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  2. 2.Division of Epidemiology, Community Health Sciences School, D Floor, West Block, Queens Medical CentreUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Social Epidemiology Unit, Division of Health Sciences, Centre for Intergenerational Health ResearchUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Division of Psychiatry, Community Health Sciences School, A Floor, South Block, Queens Medical CentreUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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