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Depressive Symptoms are too high in Young Doctors, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 09, 2015 11:35 AM EST

Young doctors who are in training have "unacceptably high" rates of depression, a new study reported.

According to a new analysis headed by Dr. Douglas A. Mata, a resident in pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the research team found that about one-third of doctors or 29 percent who recently graduated medical school and are doing their internship or residency, either deal with depressive symptoms or have depression. The range of trainees with signs of depressive was between 20 and 43 percent.

"The medical profession has a major problem," Dr. Thomas S. Schwenk, dean of the University of Nevada School of Medicine, wrote in an accompanying editorial. "These findings could be easily construed as describing a depression endemic among residents and fellows."

The researchers added that these signs of mental illness were seen in young doctors throughout the world regardless of their field.

For the study, Dr. Mata and his colleagues examined information collected from 54 studies that included 17,560 doctors in training with two-third of the studies focused on North America. The studies all ranged in how long they tracked and how often they followed up on the doctors.

The team also conducted a secondary analysis that involved 5,424 doctors in training. They found that 20 percent of these doctors had symptoms of major depressive disorder.

"You can have significant symptoms that are just as debilitating even if you don't meet all the criteria," Dr. Mata said reported by The Washington Post.

Co-study leader, Srijan Sen, who is a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan Medical School, added, "The increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients."

Experts noted that studies like this one reiterate the importance of enforcing prevention programs for doctors, especially during their training years.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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