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The Young and the Stressed: Stress, Impulse Control, and Health in College Students

Leppink, Eric W. BA; Odlaug, Brian L. PhD, MPH; Lust, Katherine PhD, MPH; Christenson, Gary MD; Grant, Jon E. JD, MD, MPH

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease: December 2016 - Volume 204 - Issue 12 - p 931–938
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000586
Original Articles

Abstract: High levels of stress are common among young adults, particularly those enrolled in college. These degrees of stress have shown numerous deleterious effects across both academic and health variables. Findings regarding the role of stress in the presentation of impulse control disorders, particular among college students, are limited. This study examined potential associations between perceived stress, academic achievement, physical/mental health, and impulse control disorders in young adults. A total of 1805 students completed an online survey and were included in the analysis. Responders were grouped by their overall score on the Perceived Stress Scale into mild, moderate, or severe. Severe perceived stress was associated with worse academic achievement and worse physical health, as well as higher rates of psychiatric and impulsive disorders. These findings may suggest associations between stress and numerous aspects of mental/physical health in young adults, which could be an important consideration for individuals working with college students.

*Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, IL; †Department of Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; and ‡Boynton Health Services, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

Send reprint requests to Eric W. Leppink, BA, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 3077, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail: eleppink@yoda.bsd.uchicago.edu.

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