Depression in college students is an important public health issue. There is growing recognition that some depression symptoms may have a more central role in the disorder than others. We use network analyses to identify the most central symptoms of depression in college students. In a cross-sectional network the BDI-SF was collected at a single time point (N = 10,005) and in a symptom change network the BDI-SF was collected at two time points separated on average by approximately two months (N = 700). In both samples, the most central depression symptoms were self-dislike and sadness. Centrality scores for the cross-sectional network were highly correlated (r = .86) with the centrality scores for the symptom change network. Self-dislike and sadness may have important roles in college student depression. Additional work experimentally targeting and changing these central symptoms is needed to determine whether they have a causal role in the disorder.
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