Taking Care of Your Mental Health in Medical School

Medical student taking notes in her journal

Being a medical student is tough. You’re studying long hours, under a lot of pressure, and constantly being bombarded with new information. 

It’s no wonder many medical students suffer from mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that medical students are more likely to suffer from mental health problems than the general population. It’s essential to be aware of the signs of mental illness and to know where to find help if you or someone you know is struggling. 

Depression in Medical Students

Depression is a common problem among medical students. A study published in Jama found that nearly 30% of medical students suffer from depression. 

The most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or worthless
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Fatigue or low energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

 If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Depression is a serious issue and should not be ignored. 

Anxiety in Medical Students

Anxiety is another common problem among medical students. According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults yearly. 

Symptoms of anxiety include: 

  • Feeling restless, irritable, or on edge 
  • Having difficulty concentrating 
  • Feeling tense or jumpy 

 If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and there is no shame in seeking help. 

How COVID-19 Affected the Mental Health of Medical Students?

COVID-19 has only made things worse. Medical students have had to deal with the stress of the pandemic on top of everything else. 

Many have had to take on additional responsibilities, such as working in hospitals or helping with contact tracing. Some have even had to put their studies on hold. It’s no wonder that mental health problems are on the rise among medical students.

Tips for Taking Care Of Your Mental Health In Medical School

Given the high rates of mental illness among medical students, taking care of your mental health while in medical school is essential. 

Here are some tips: 

  • Make time for yourself: With all the demands of medical school, it can be challenging to make time for yourself. However, it’s important to schedule some time each day to do something you enjoy outside school. This can be as simple as reading a book, going for a walk, or watching your favorite TV show. 
  • Get enough sleep: A lack of sleep can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night by establishing a regular sleep schedule and avoiding caffeine before bedtime. 
  • Eat healthily and exercise: Eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise can improve your mood and help you deal with stress. 
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you are struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor. 

Finding Mental Health Treatment And Support

If you are struggling with your mental health, many resources are available to help you.

Here are some places to start: 

  • Your school’s counseling center: Most colleges and universities have counseling centers that offer free or low-cost counseling services to students. 
  • Your doctor: Your primary care doctor can provide referrals to mental health providers in your area. 
  • Local therapy clinics: Many therapy clinics offer sliding-scale fees based on income level. 
  • Crisis lines: If you are in crisis and need immediate assistance, call a crisis line such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).  

Seeking Help For Mental Illness Is Not A Sign Of Weakness

Medical school is tough, and the high rates of mental illness among medical students reflect that. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional. 

Taking care of your mental health should be a priority in medical school so that you can succeed academically and personally. For more assistance, contact our helpline today. 

Sources: 

American Medical Association (AMA) – 1 in 4 med students around the world shows depression signs

National Library of Medicine – Health anxiety among medical students: A comparison between preclinical and clinical years of training

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