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

on rates drop down to first-year levels.

Hafen said several factors might contribute to the higher rate of depression in veterinary medicine students. Veterinarians deal with stressors that human medicine doctors do not have to experience, such as frequently discussing euthanasia with clients. Although both programs of study are intense, veterinarians must understand a variety of animal species rather than focusing on the human body. Struggles with balancing work, school and life could also lead to higher depression rates.

Hafen said gender differences could also play a role, although such claims are inconclusive so far. Whereas medical schools are nearly split evenly between male and female students, about 75 percent of veterinary medicine students are female. National studies indicate that women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from mood disorders.

The research team's studies found several other factors connected with higher depression occurrence, including: homesickness; uncertainty about academic expectations; a feeling of not belonging or not fitting in; and perceived physical health. The researchers had students rate their own physical health to indicate how they felt about their overall health. Students who were happier with their physical health had lower depression rates.

But the studies contain more than just negative news; they offer interventions and ways that veterinary schools and their faculty and staff can help students struggling with depression and anxiety. Some of these ways include:

  • Having clearer expectations of veterinary students, especially during the first year.

  • Sponsoring events and organizations that help improve physical health.

  • Empathizing with students and their concerns about their studies.

The researchers are optimistic that by helping veterinary medicine students care for their own mental health, these students become bet
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Contact: Mac Hafen
mhafen@k-state.edu
785-532-4448
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

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