Learning to cope with depression: experiences of post graduate students at the college of Education and External Studies in Makerere University.
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Depression occurs among postgraduate students and it is associated with poor academic outcomes if the student does not cope appropriately. This study explored how postgraduate students learn to cope with depression. The study aimed at examining the nature of depression, the factors associated with depression, and analyzing how postgraduate students develop the copying mechanisms for depression. I employed a qualitative approach and single case study research design with embedded units, and data was generated using in-depth interviews. The study revealed that postgraduate students face depressive experiences while pursuing their study programs and the depressive situations were characterized with anxiety, fatigue, fear, and nervousness. The factors associated with the depression included multiple roles and responsibilities, financial constraints, institutional factors and the unprecedented catastrophes. The coping mechanisms employed by the students were social and peer support, prayers for strength and institutional support. Experiential learning has been identified as the most commonly used approach by postgraduate students to learn coping mechanisms for depression. Therefore, postgraduate students' coping mechanisms to depression are those that they learn from their experiences rather than those that are intentionally sought. There is need for postgraduate students to plan their workload, and make use of the university's existing support systems to mitigate the experiences of depression.