Study: Depression, suicidal thoughts high among medical students

More than one in four medical students are depressed and more than one in 10 has suicidal thoughts, according to a meta-analysis of nearly 200 studies published Tuesday in JAMA.

Though many studies have suggested medical students suffer from depression and depressive symptoms, results range, making it difficult to understand the severity of the issue. The analysis published Tuesday aimed to give an overview of how common depression is among medical students.

After analyzing 195 studies across 47 countries and roughly 129,000 medical students, the researchers found 27 percent of medical students experience depression or symptoms of depression during medical school and 11 percent experience suicidal ideation.

"Possible causes of depressive and suicidal symptomatology in medical students likely include stress and anxiety secondary to the competitiveness of medical school," the authors wrote. "Restructuring medical school curricula and student evaluations might ameliorate these stresses."

The study also suggests strategies are needed to help medical students better access mental health resources. The meta-analysis revealed 16 percent of medical students who screened positive for depression did not seek treatment. In light of these findings, the authors called for additional research into how to prevent and treat depressive disorders in medical students.

"Taken together, these data suggest that 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," the authors wrote.


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