The stress, the anxiety of passing or failing, and the overwhelming amount of debt that students face if they can’t graduate, it’s no wonder why it’s becoming common for medical students to develop signs of depression over the course of their academic career. Dr. Douglas Mata, a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, conducted an analysis that led to the discovery that roughly 27 percent of medical students suffer from depression, an entire third. The reason for Mata’s research was due to what he saw around him and was even aware that three students committed suicide for that very reason.
The question is no longer “Are medical students depressed?” but “Why are medical students depressed?”
So what can students do when they feel the pressure? Often it’s not so much one failed exam or that first student loan debt payment, but it’s the collective stress from all these elements that have made modern medical schools a depressive environment.
Thought like dropping out, letting down a family, massive debt, slim job opportunities, slipping performance are all thoughts medical students have had, probably a lot.
So what can students do to alleviate some of that stress? While dropping out might be one solution to this issue, many don’t want to do that for obvious reasons. The problem doesn’t rest so much with stress exercises but the structure of modern medical school and a declining industry for general practice doctors.
First and foremost, stress exercises are a must. While these seem to pale in comparison to the rigors of medical school, taking the time to relax, exercise, enjoy hobbies, eat healthy, and meditate do work over time.
The other thing to consider is tackling the anxieties of school head on. If your debt is the item that scares you most, look into scholarships, job opportunities, loan forgiveness programs. If you’re worried about exams do the legwork to see if you can make it up somehow and tell yourself there is always time to turn it around.
For most people, depression is a matter of perspective and realizing that there are always alternatives can make the difference. You might be much happier with another career or you might find that next semester is much easier than the last. Whatever the case may be, know that you’re not alone in this struggle and that many people feel the same anxieties you’re experiencing too.