Depression is a normal physiological effect that happens in relation to emotional, pathological, or even physical troubles, and if it persists for a long time and affects the one’s performance, it will cause a mental disorder or more specifically depression, which is a global cause of mortality. Medical students experience stress during years of study in a way that the stress decreases their quality of life and academic achievement. This stress was linked with depressive disorders, and 30% of the students reported depressive symptoms. In this regard, Saudi medical students have a higher risk of developing depressive symptoms than other specialties because of personal, family, and social pressures that always emphasize that the doctors must be the best at everything. Thus, this essay highlights significantly the statistic regarding the status of Saudi medical students and the fundamental reasons beyond this dilemma.
On the one hand, it is been evidenced that medical students have 25% higher depression rate than the people in other specialties. Prevalence of stress was 57% among Saudi medical students. Another study carried out in King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia; found that the prevalence of depression was 16% among Saudi medical students. What is more, roughly 17% increase in the number of students developing depressive from the first year to the third year, indicating that depression is accumulative and it increases over time if not diagnosed and treated properly. Students in the first years of college should be screened for depression, while education and support for medical students in these years are essential.
The frequency of reporting depressive symptoms gradually decreased with advancing toward the fifth year (P=0.034). This could be explained by confidence in the level of knowledge or even by the fact that they are in their final years of medicine, in comparison with those who just started college especially when a high grade point average is a major goal. On the other hand, students who live alone were found to have a slightly higher frequency of reporting depressive symptoms in comparison to students living with their families or relatives.
The risk factors for depression among medical students include
Moving on to Burnout, it is a group of symptoms which includes emotional exhaustion, cynicism, and decreased professional efficacy. It frequently occurs between medical students due to the mentally and psychologically burden of medical education. Students are demanded to learn and memorize huge amount of information within a limited time. Recent studies showed a high prevalence of burnout (71% – 76.8%). What is more, studies was done between Saudi Arabia medical students have identified a high prevalence of burnout. In this context, Altannir study showed that gender predicts emotional exhaustion and depolarization of medical students. The level of burnout decreased as the students advanced to from pre-clinical to clinical years.
Overall, significant literatures showed a worsened mental health of medical students, which starts school and continues so during their study and after graduation. Alongside, financial stressors are another predisposing factor of depression as medical students are always concerned about money to secure scholarships, courses and text books. Moreover, lack of time for relaxation, family and social events, length of residency program, the dilemma of specialty choice and the low monthly income also exacerbate stress between medical students. Thus, Burnout, depression and sleep disorders (such as insomnia) gradually develop over the academic years which leads to serious health disorders as “anxiety disorders, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, ideas of dropping out, decreased empathy, low motivation for education, and low academic progress” Also medical students showed a poor mental quality of life in comparison to persons of the same age in public.
High levels of burnout were observed among participants. Several actions need to be implemented to reduce student burnout, as students graduating medical school with high levels of burnout have an increased likelihood of developing severe burnout during residency training, and this may lead to detrimental repercussions in regards to student careers and patient healthcare. Persistent burnout can lead to other mental and physical health care problems such as depression, drug abuse, alcoholism amongst other consequences. And as it well known, early diagnosis and proper treatment should not delay to avoid poor outcomes. Regular psychological check of medical student for early detection and management plan
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