Depression rife among medical students

Dec 05, 2008

Medical students frequently suffer from depression, especially during their internship years. New research published in the open access journal BMC Medical Education reveals the extent of the problem and features a detailed analysis of the symptoms and sufferers.

Sergio Baldassin, from the ABC Regional Medical School, Brazil, led a team of researchers who carried out a study on 481 medical students in the private medical school near the São Paulo state capital. He said, "We used cluster analyses to better describe the characteristics of depressive symptoms - affective, cognitive, and somatic. This is the first study to directly evaluate, in a cross-sectional design, the characteristics of depressive symptoms by applying such clusters".

Affective symptoms represent the core symptoms of a depressive mood, based on students' reported levels of sadness, dissatisfaction, episodes of crying, irritability and social withdrawal. The cognitive cluster assessed pessimism, sense of failure or guilt, expectation of punishment, dislike of self, suicidal ideation, indecisiveness and change in body image. Finally, the somatic cluster assessed the presence of slowness, insomnia, fatigue, loss of weight and loss of sexual interest. Baldassin said, "There was a high prevalence towards depressive symptoms among medical students, particularly females, mainly involving the somatic and affective clusters. Of the students in our study, 38% had at least 10 of a possible 63 symptoms of depression".

The authors' cluster analysis found that the reasons for most students' depression scores were in the affective cluster, and that the problem was at its worst in the internship years. Cognitive cluster symptoms were also highest in this year, probably due to feelings of fear and insecurity about entry into the hospital environment. According to Baldassin, "Frequently pre-internship students fear they 'know nothing', and are insecure about the physical examination of other people". Likewise, somatic cluster scores were highest during internship, reflecting sleepless nights on call, devoid of friend and family support.

Having a parent who is a doctor was found to reduce the depression risk.

The authors conclude, "The increased depression scores during the internship period of medical school are associated with a decrease in student health, and this is probably the period when professors and educators should try to be most aware of suicidal thoughts and risk in their students".

Source: BioMed Central

Explore further: Experts denounce clinical trials of unscientific, 'alternative' medicines

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0