Depression In Medical School:


“I don’t feel like studying, I don’t want to be a medical student “, this is one of the most common sentences that one uses in med school where depression lurks around very often.

One of the most common problems that one faces in med school is depression. This is an oppressed topic because no one wants to accept the fact they are going through all  that and also the fear of stigmatization makes it difficult for students to ask for help.

Most med students are sleep deprived individuals who are constantly asked to make the daunting task of memorizing different facts. They are credited, categorized, marked and judged by their ability to present the facts to the almighty teachers. When one fails to present facts with precision, they usually become victims of taunts and constant pressure.

Most med’s experience depressive phases especially before the examinations. It’s also called the most venerable period. Med students try to become like robots during that phase, constantly memorizing facts, making acronyms and mnemonics to learn as much they can from the textbooks. They have three purposes in life at that time, to study, to eat and to poop.

Others med’s deal with depression during the hospital rounds. When they deal with the clinical aspect like when they face patients and the grief that is attached with them. One also face’s depression when they are asked to give constant oral examinations.  Humiliation severs two purposes during orals, it either encourages you to study more for a test or it cripples you to the floor.

It’s always the test scores; right from the beginning one compares the result with each other. Everybody in your class is a competitive master, when one fails and the other passes; there is an automatic division between who studies well and who studies average and who do not seem to care anymore. Other factors that lead to depression are the failed relationships, the lack of commitments that one shows for med students.

It’s the inability of med students to balance fun and study.  One can easily balance both if they search for fun in their studies. There are different methods other than the normal act of opening the text and memorizing. Encouraging and participating in regular discussion with friends can also give the same input. Other methods like learning by doing, meaning writing down whatever you learned can also be useful. “It’s easy to forget, it’s hard to remember and it’s even tougher to implement.” But Rome was not built in one day and you have to start and finish what you started.

Depression has its several manifestations, while most med’s deny the fact, some openly agree to the fact they get depressed by the test score. People have their own way of dealing with it. Some med students hide it behind heavy alcohol consumption, some by behaving recklessly with life and some behind the world of social media.  No one wants to seek medical advice because of the stigmatization of the disease and the social pressure that one has to go through.

Even if med students wished to seek medical advice they are sent back with beta blockers for anxiety and asked to attend classes as per schedule. Psychiatrics think that med students use malingering as a tool to get leave from class. They are no statistics for the rate of suicide attempts in Nepal especially for those that happen in med schools. But looking at a statistics based for United States, the rates are high enough for one to ponder on this issue.

Giving student’s responsibilities like dealing with primary prevention of disease, giving them credit despite their inability to perform well in class and appreciating them for the fact that they have chosen this profession for the betterment of humanity, might make the situation much less dramatic. What med schools especially in the South Asian Region, needs right now is to set up physiatrist advisors for each students so that they can discuss and deal with any kind of depression that comes their way.

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2 thoughts on “Depression In Medical School:

  1. I’m a Canadian pre-med, but I’ve heard lots about the problematic symptoms of depression and burnout that students get. Thanks to you for posting this and giving voice to an often forgotten topic.

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