Findings of a new research have revealed that more than a quarter of medical students in 47 countries have depressive symptoms and about one in 10 even have suicidal thoughts.
In a new analysis, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers looked at studies published between January 1963 and September 2015 that involved more than 129,000 medical students in 47 countries.
They found that the rate of depressive symptoms or depression was 27 percent among medical students and that 11 percent of medical students experienced having thoughts of suicide.
More worrying is the fact that only about 16 percent of the students who have tested positive for depression decided to get treatment.
The researchers who were involved in the research said that depression is actually an open secret in the profession.
Study researcher and co-principle author Srijan Sen, from the University of Michigan, said that she has seen people older than she is who suffered from depression and attempted ending their lives when she was still a medical student. One of these people completed suicide. She explained that this was one of the factors why she got involved in the study.
"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.
The researchers said that among the reasons behind depression and suicidal thoughts include the anxiety and stress associated with the competitiveness of medical school. The researchers said that restructuring the curricula of medical schools and student evaluation may help ameliorate these stresses.
They also said that further studies on the matter should investigate how depression in medical school can predict the risk for depression of medical residents when they leave medical school. A study published in December last year showed that depression affects 29 percent of new doctors. The researchers said that depression among residents may eventually affect patient care.
"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," the researchers wrote in their study.
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