Depression and Suicidal Thoughts Are Common Among Medical Students, Says Recent Longitudinal Study

A new analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, analyzed studies published between January 1963 and September 2015, which included around 129,000 medical students from 47 countries. Results showed the presence of depression symptoms in around quarter of the students, as well as a presence of suicidal thoughts in more than 10 percent of the studied sample.

The meta-analysis found that 27 percent of medical students from 47 countries have symptoms tied with depression; also around 11 percent had suicidal thoughts at some time. Out of the students who were diagnosed with symptoms tied with depression, only 16 percent searched help.

depression

Depression is sort of an open secret in the medical profession, stated researchers involved in the study. Co-principle author, Srijan Sen, stated that she’s seen people who suffered from depression and had suicide attempts while she was a medical student; one of the people even committed suicide. “It hit home to me and made me realize how big a problem this was and was part of the reason why I got involved in this research,” Sen said.

Among the causes triggering depression and suicidal thoughts, the anxiety and stress associated with the medical school were the most important ones. Also, researchers noted that a possible restructuration of the medical school curricula, along with student evaluation may help in reducing the anxiety and stress.

The study concluded that “Because the development of depression has been linked to a higher risk of future depressive episodes and greater long-term morbidity, these findings may affect the long-term health of resident doctors. Depression among residents may also affect patients, given established associations between physician depression and lower-quality care.”

Researchers also stated that any further studies should investigate on how suffering from depression during medical school can predict the risk for depression after students leave medical school. Another recent study, published in December 2015, found that 29 percent of new physicians suffer from depression; the results showed that depression among medical workers may affect patient care.