A lot of medical students are suffering from depression, study says
1 in 10 medical students have reported having suicidal thoughts
An analysis of 195 studies that involve over 120,000 students in 47 countries came to the conclusion that 27% of medical students report being depressed or showing signs of depression. Out of that 27%, 1 in 10 medical students have reported having suicidal thoughts.
F.I., a medical student, shares how medical school has affected her depression: "I still remember the day I got the acceptance letter," she said. "I was really shocked and I was incredibly happy, and I thought all those feelings of inadequacy would be gone."
"But then after I started, they all returned, and it’s never-ending. Then you have to apply for residency, and it’s like the same thing all over again."
The study also found a 13% increase in depression symptoms when students first started medical school. New medical students, as well as those in their last year of study, were also equally at risk, and even medical residents face high rates of depression.
The study can't explain why medical students get depressed
While the study can't explain why medical students get depressed, the study's senior editor Dr. Douglas Mata, a pathology resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and clinical fellow at Harvard Medical School shares his thoughts.
He said that medical school is notorious for having long hours, demanding loads, a competitive atmosphere, and a high rate of burnout and stress. Another factor that can contribute to why medical students suffer from depression is the lack of sleep, and lastly, a huge factor would be the financial debt that a lot of students acquire just so they can graduate.
He adds, "Sometimes people feel trapped by that, because in addition to not having enough money to do everyday things if God forbid, you decide that maybe you made the wrong decision and that medicine is not actually what you want to do, you’re pretty much locked in just for monetary reasons. You really don’t have a choice of quitting and starting anew if you’ve gotten yourself into that much debt."
This is why for everyone, not just medical students, knowing what to do about depression is of utmost important.
Go to the next page to learn more about what you can do about depression.
How to handle depression
For anyone, depression is a struggle. Depression makes people feel hopeless like they're constantly surrounded by negativity and sadness. And for some, the pressure can be too much, and it leads to self-harm, even suicide.
This is why it's important to know what you can do in case you feel depressed or if you think that you might be suffering from clinical depression.
- Seek help. There's nothing wrong with seeking professional help for depression. That's why if you think that you're starting to suffer symptoms of depression, or if you think that you have clinical depression, you should look for a mental health professional that would be able to help you.
- Reach out to people. It might be hard to go out and talk to people, but it really helps. Tell them how you feel and don't be afraid to ask for support. You might be surprised at how much other people are willing to help you.
- Exercise. Exercise not only keeps you fit, but it also boosts the happy hormones in your body. Keeping active will also help you keep your mind off sad thoughts.
- Do things that make you happy, even if you're not in the mood. Keep yourself busy. Doing nothing will just make you feel even more depressed. Even if you're struggling with depression, it's not an excuse not to be productive. Do things that you love, even if you're not in the mood to do those things.
- Stay positive. Keeping positive is the single most important thing that you can do for yourself to cope with your depression. Even in the midst of your darkest days, having the knowledge that everything will work out is important to help keep you pushing on, regardless of how bad your depression makes you feel. A little positivity can go a long way.
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