Blog | Friday, December 5, 2008

Internship years often trigger depression

Recent research involving medical students in Brazil suggests that professors should be alert to signs of suicidal thoughts during the internship years, when students appear mostly likely to suffer from depression.

In the study of 481 students, depression scores were highest in the "affective" (sadness, dissatisfaction, episodes of crying, irritability and social withdrawal) and "cognitive" (pessimism, sense of failure or guilt, expectation of punishment, dislike of self, suicidal ideation, indecisiveness and change in body image) clusters during the internship years. The latter symptoms, researchers noted, were likely linked to fear about entering the hospital environment. One thing that seemed to alleviate symptoms: having a physician parent who had already been through the internship process.

According to one of the researchers, “Frequently pre-internship students fear they ‘know nothing’, and are insecure about the physical examination of other people.”