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Research finds veterinary medicine students experience higher depression levels than peers
Date:7/28/2011

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Veterinary medicine students are more likely to struggle with depression than human medicine students, undergraduate students and the general population, according to several recent collaborative studies from Kansas State University researchers.

Mac Hafen, therapist and clinical instructor in Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, and researchers from Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska and East Carolina University decided to take a closer look at depression and anxiety among veterinary medicine students. Although the mental health of human medicine students has been extensively studied, the same extent of study has not been performed with veterinary medicine students. Additionally, most veterinary research related to depression involves pet owners, not veterinarians or students.

"We are hoping to predict what contributes to depression levels so that we can intervene and make things run a little bit more smoothly for students themselves," said Hafen, who has spent five years researching the well-being and mental health of veterinary students.

Once a semester, the researchers anonymously surveyed veterinary medicine students in various stages of academic study. The survey helped uncover a rate of depression occurrence and understand how it related to the amount of stress veterinary students experience during their four years of study.

During the first year of veterinary school, 32 percent of the veterinary medicine students surveyed showed symptoms of depression, compared to 23 percent of human medicine students who showed symptoms above the clinical cutoff, as evidenced by other studies.

The researchers also discovered that veterinary students experience higher depression rates as early as the first semester of their first year of study. Their depression rates appear to increase even more during the second and third year of school. During the fourth year, depressi
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Contact: Mac Hafen
mhafen@k-state.edu
785-532-4448
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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