Is Depression Among Med Students a Hidden Epidemic?

January 04, 2017

A new JAMA study has found that the seeds of burnout may be sown as early as medical school.

More than a quarter of medical students experience depression or depressive symptoms, the meta-analysis of nearly 200 studies by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School reported. About 10% of med students admit to suicidal urges. These symptoms are highly elevated compared with the general population of people around the same age, the study authors found, yet only a minority of troubled students sought help.

The analysis also noted that the problem is a global one. It pooled data from 167 cross-sectional and 16 longitudinal studies gathered in 43 countries. The estimated overall prevalence of depression or depressive symptoms among medical students was 27.2% and ranged from 9.3% to 55.9%.

The prevalence of depressive symptoms remained relatively constant during the period of investigation. The authors called it a "hidden epidemic right under our noses."

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