- Medical school students from around the world suffer from depression
- 1 in 10 medical school students has suicidal thoughts
- Measures need to be taken to identify and treat the causes of emotional distress among medical students.
The mental health of medical students suffers years before they get their degrees.
27% of medical students report symptoms of depressive symptoms, whereas 11% of the students report suicide ideation.
‘Depressive and suicidal symptoms in medical trainees may adversely affect the long-term health of physicians as well as the quality of care delivered in academic medical centers.’
Numerous research studies have revealed that medical students experience increased rates of depression and suicidal ideation; however the occurrence estimates vary across the different.
Douglas A. Mata, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies of depression, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation in undergraduate medical trainees. The researchers identified 195 studies involving 129,000 medical students in 47 countries that met criteria for inclusion in the analysis.
Depression Study Results
The data was extracted from 167 cross sectional studies
Depression symptom prevalence remained relatively constant over the period studied (baseline survey year range of 1982-2015). In the 9 longitudinal studies that assessed depressive symptoms before and during medical school, the median absolute increase in symptoms was 14 percent.
16% of medical students screening positive for depression sought psychiatric treatment.
Suicide Ideation Study Results
The data was extracted from 24 cross sectional studies from 15 countries. The overall pooled crude prevalence of suicidal ideation was 11 percent (2,043/21,002 individuals). Summary prevalence estimates ranged across assessment methods from 7 percent to 24 percent.
"The present analysis builds on recent work demonstrating a high prevalence of depression among resident physicians, and the concordance between the summary prevalence estimates (27.2 percent in students vs 28.8 percent in residents) suggests that depression is a problem affecting all levels of medical training.
"Possible causes of depressive and suicidal symptomatology in medical students likely include stress and anxiety secondary to the competitiveness of medical school. Restructuring medical school curricula and student evaluations might ameliorate these stresses. Future research should also determine how strongly depression in medical school predicts depression during residency and whether interventions that reduce depression in medical students carry over in their effectiveness when those students transition to residency. Furthermore, efforts are continually needed to reduce barriers to mental health services, including addressing the stigma of depression."
"Further research is needed to identify strategies for preventing and treating these disorders in this population," the researchers conclude.
- Lisa S. Rotenstein et.al. Prevalence of Depression, Depressive Symptoms, and Suicidal Ideation Among Medical StudentsA Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis; JAMA. 2016;316(21):2214-2236 doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17324