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Depression in Physicians and Medical Students

Liselotte N. Dyrbye, M.D. and Thomas Schwenk, M.D.

Past Studies have shown that approximately 12% of medical students have major depressive disorder (MDD). Depressive symptoms continue into residency, affecting 7-35% of residents across multiple domains. In fact, depression persists in surgeons with 30% showing depressive symptoms and 10-15% have MDD. During this colloquium Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, Assistant Professor of Medicine, extended her findings on the prevalence, course, and etiology of depression in medical students and physicians. Dr. Dyrbye has found that depressive symptoms peak in medical students in their second year because of increasing levels of stress, pressure, and burn out rates. Symptoms persist because of barriers to care including: confidentiality concerns, academic vulnerability, coast, access, and lack of time to seek treatment, and the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Furthermore, suicidal ideation dramatically increases in the fourth year of medical school and continues to increase for residents and surgeons. Dr. Dyrbye concludes that more services need to be made available to medical students to decrease rates of depression and suicidal ideation.


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