Medical school can be challenging, but stepping out to the real world of clinical practice is something far more demanding. In a new study, American researchers found that about 29 percent of new doctors or resident physicians suffer from depression.
Resident physicians are required to render hospital duties 24/7. During shifts, doctors are not only exhausted physically. They are also drained of their mental, emotional and psychological health as well. With this, they are recognized to have high risk for depression, but the prevalence of the disorder is significantly different in previous studies.
A group of researchers led by Dr. Douglas Mata from Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital wanted to present a summary estimate of depression prevalence among new doctors.
The team looked into various databases that contain studies that tackle the rates of depressive symptoms among resident physicians. The studies, which were published from January 1963 to September 2015, appeared in peer-reviewed literature and utilized validated assessment methods.
Two investigators validated the studies. A total of 31 cross-sectional researches with 9,447 participants and 23 longitudinal studies with 8,113 subjects were included in the final pool of investigation. The researches were a mix of clinical interviews and self-report studies.
After analysis, the overall prevalence of depression among the participants was at 28.8 percent.
No notable differences in results were noted among participants in the cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. Researches that focused on interns only did not reveal significant discrepancies from those that targeted senior residents. Lastly, no big variations were observed among studies that delved solely on nonsurgical residents and those that tackled both new nonsurgical and surgical doctors.
The prevalence of depression increases every calendar year, with a rate of about 0.5 percent.
The researchers also performed a secondary investigation where they looked at seven longitudinal studies. The results show that the medical rise of depression with the onset of residency was 15.8 percent.
“At the very least, this means that the problem is not getting better,” said Mata.
Although most of the study subjects did not meet all the criteria for major depressive disorder, Mata said the difference between clinical manifestations and diseases is not that relevant. “You can have significant symptoms that are just as debilitating even if you don’t meet all the criteria,” he added.
In the end, the researchers said that additional investigations are required to determine efficient measures that can help alleviate depression among new doctors.