Depression is among the most common mental health conditions affecting young adults. In a 2015 survey of 43,210 undergraduate students across 72 U.S. colleges and universities, 18.2 percent of students screened positive for depressive symptoms and 7.8 percent reported serious thoughts of suicide. Ultimately, depression’s multifaceted nature and unresolved pathogenic mechanisms make the communication of biological etiologies challenging for use in mental health outreach training. An animation created by Masters student Molly Huttner from the Biomedical Visualizations Graduate program aims to illustrate the invisible for just this purpose.
Current research implicates that reductions in subcortical brain volumes are associated with causative biological factors of depression, and these changes are improved with exercise, medication and psychotherapy. Evidence suggests offering such biological attributions for mental illness can be associated with decreases in the stigma, blame, and personal responsibility ascribed to its sufferers. Therefore, it is the purpose of this research project to develop an appealing animation exploring the biological foundation of depression. This tool will not only educate students, but provide student leaders and faculty a way to advocate for depression literacy with their student community.