Study: Depression common among medical residents

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Thursday, December 10, 2015
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According to a new survey, depression seems to be more common among medical residents.

CHICAGO, ILL. (WPVI) -- Depression is a problem across the country, including inside the medical community.

And according to a new survey, depression seems to be more common among medical residents.

A new study of more than 17,000 physicians in training found nearly one-third of them are depressed or have symptoms of depression.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found resident physicians have higher rates of depression than the general public.

Long hours, a heavy workload and stress add to the problem.

Experts say it can affect their decision-making and quality of care.

But study leaders say the culture of invincibility and confidence in the medical profession may make residents feel uncomfortable admitting they need help.

So they may not be getting the treatment or support they need.

"Perhaps we should be acting a little more quickly to be more supportive or to be more provocative and actually push a little bit to understand what the problem is," says Dr. Thomas Schwenk of the University of Nevada School of Medicine.

"Because the development of depression has been linked to a higher risk of future depressive episodes and greater long-term morbidity, these findings may affect the long-term health of resident doctors," the study states. "These findings highlight an important issue in graduate medical education."

Some doctors say programs should be built into training, so that residents can recognize depression in their patients and also in themselves.

They will also better understand the importance of treatment.

Depression levels among medical students and practicing physicians is roughly the same as in the general population.