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Depression Not Uncommon Among Resident Physicians

Grueling medical training may help explain finding

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 9, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- More than one in four doctors-in-training may be depressed, which could put their patients at risk, according to a study published in the Dec. 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

Researchers reviewed 54 studies involving 17,500 medical residents conducted worldwide over 50 years. They found that 28.8 percent of the residents showed signs of depression, and that the rate of depression among medical residents is on the rise.

The grind of medical training may help explain the finding, the researchers said. However, "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," senior author Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, said in a Brigham and Women's Hospital news release. These findings show that medical schools and hospitals must do more to safeguard new doctors' mental health, Sen's team added.

"Our findings provide a more accurate measure of the prevalence of depression in this group," lead author Douglas Mata, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in the news release. "We hope that they will focus attention on factors that may negatively affect the mental health of young doctors, with the goal of identifying strategies to prevent and treat depression among graduate medical trainees."

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