Medical students exhibit signs of depression at higher rates than a matched sample of the general population. And they show greater evidence of mental illness as their medical education continues.

One positive aspect of this troubling trend would be that medical students enjoy greater access to health care. But again, the data show otherwise. Despite their proximity to medical services, medical students are less likely than their peers to seek help for their condition.

A study at the University of Michigan Medical School published in the Journal of the American Medical Association explores why depression is prevalent among medical students and why they choose not to treat it. The web-based survey found that most students viewed depression with a stigma. Acknowledging their depression, they felt, would cause peers and faculty to see them as less able.

Unfortunately, this picture of an ultra-competitive environment where any admission of weakness is taboo characterizes many doctors’ medical school experiences. As faculty, we should be attentive to the health of students as well as patients. One way to do that is to talk openly about depression and mental health as a way to lessen the stigma.

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One Response to “Depression”

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