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Depressed Med Students Seem to Fear Stigma More Than Most
Date:9/15/2010

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that depressed medical students are more likely than their non-depressed counterparts to think that depression spells big trouble.

"They are much more likely to believe that mentally ill students like them will be isolated and stigmatized," said study author Dr. Thomas L. Schwenk, a professor at the University of Michigan. "They are not comfortable revealing their depression because they feel less worthy and less valuable."

Previous research has shown that a lot of medical students struggle with mental health issues: they suffer from more depression and burnout than the general population, and they commit suicide and consider killing themselves more often than other people of the same age.

"On the whole, though, they often do not seek treatment due to time constraints, fears around confidentiality, and worries that they will become stigmatized," said Dr. Laura Weiss Roberts, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, who wrote a commentary accompanying the study.

A second study in the same issue of the journal found that burnt-out medical students were more likely to report unprofessional conduct in patient care. In surveying students from seven U.S. medical schools, the Mayo Clinic researchers found 52.8 percent of the students surveyed had burnout.

Both studies are published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the first study, Schwenk and his colleagues surveyed 769 medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School and got responses back from 505.

The researchers found that, overall, about 14 percent of the students reported having moderate or severe depression; the rate was 18 percent in women, double the 9 percent rate reported in men.

Students with symptoms of moderate or severe
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