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Anxiety and Depression: The Risks of Medical School

stack of books student

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), almost 30% of medical students suffer from depression or symptoms of depression. In addition, 1 out of 10 medical students report experiencing suicidal thoughts. That means medical students are five times more susceptible to depression than the general population. Why is that? Is it because of the stress and pressure of getting good grades, the lack of sleep and extreme conditions of residency, or the waiting to find out if you have been accepted into a good medical program? Any or all of these conditions can make even well-adjusted student feel overwhelmed.

What Can You Do?

stack of books studentIf you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, sad, or just need to vent, it is essential that you talk to someone right away. You’re not a superhero. Medical school has quite a few risk factors for depression and stress-related conditions like long hours, lack of sleep, heavy workload, and lots of competition. In fact, medical students are three times more susceptible to mental health disorders than the average college student. However, they are the last ones to ask for help. Maybe it is because they don’t have the time or they don’t know who to talk to. It could also be because they are embarrassed or feel like they would be seen as weak if they needed help. Many students are worried that seeking mental help will be on their record and cost them the residency or position that they are hoping for.

Who You Can Talk to for Help

Having someone to talk to is important in times like this, but medical students don’t have a lot of free time for an appointment with a therapist. As a matter of fact, most of their free time is usually during the middle of the night or very early in the morning when traditional therapists are at home and in bed. In a survey of 1,122 medical students, 80% felt that the mental health support available to them was inadequate. There are medical students just like you at AMSA On Call who can help you with what you’re going through because they’ve been there themselves. For those students who feel they need more than just a casual conversation, websites such as BetterHelp have licensed professionals that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No matter who you reach out to in these sites, just do it today. Your health is important. You cannot take care of others without taking care of yourself first.

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