Introduction: Depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders among adults, previously seen as an acute and self-limiting illness, but now recognised as a chronic, lifelong illness. The importance of mental health and wellbeing has been recognised among young adults and moreover healthcare professionals. Interviewing a patient with chronic anxiety and depression, I reflect how these relate to published literature of the metal health and wellbeing of medical students.
Methods: Interviewing a patient suffering with chronic anxiety and depressive illness, I highlight a number of areas I found thought provoking and review the published literature relating to mental health and wellbeing of medical students.
Results: The prevalence of depression or depressive symptoms in medical students is around 27.2% internationally, with suicidal ideation in approximately 11.1%. The prevalence of anxiety is much higher, 33.8%, most prevalent among medical students from the Middle East and Asia. Furthermore, medical students have a significantly higher prevalence of anxiety related symptoms compared with other non-medical students. Most worryingly two out of three medical students with generalised anxiety symptoms and one in two with depressive symptoms do not seek medical or psychological care. Mindfulness-based interventions decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and improve mindfulness, mood, self-efficacy, and empathy in health care students.
Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of anxiety and depression amongst medical students and in those with anxiety symptoms alone, the risk of developing other mental health symptoms long-term is high. Medical student mental health and wellbeing has been recognised by the British Medical Association and proposals to include mental health awareness and promotion of self-care practices as part of the core curriculum. There are many self-help interventions that can help to reduce general anxiety symptoms and medical students should be more encouraged to take part in university societies and extracurricular activities.
Published Date: 2020-07-21; Received Date: 2020-06-06