Medical students study hard with the intention of making people well. Yasmina Dadi asks if medicine is making you sick
Countless hours spent in the library, harsh exams, competition, stress, and a small to non-existent income for several years, sums up everyday life for many medical students. Studying itself can be stressful, but researchers have found specific health effects of medical school, including high levels of anxiety and depression.
A longitudinal study that examined psychological distress in first year medical students found that medical students' anxiety levels were higher than for other university students in autumn and spring. The percentage of medical students reporting depression also doubled over the school year.1
Esa Leinonen, a professor of psychiatry in the University of Tampere, Finland, studied medical students' stress factors in the '90s.23 He says the reasons behind medical students' high levels of stress are complex. Student's own psychological traits, such as competitiveness and meticulousness, as well as the external aspects of the studies contribute.
Leinonen says, “Medical students felt that the