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A new study shows depression and suicidal thoughts are prevalent in early medical school students. The study surveyed students at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine between July 2017 and June 2018. Out of 700 students, 16.3% showed consistent signs of major depression. Additionally, another 9.4% reported thought of self harm.

We found two interesting observations from the study. Firstly, those students who had significant others were less likely to experience depression or suicidal thoughts. Secondly, the medical school experience seems to improve.

The fourth-year students experienced less depression and suicidal thoughts. Perhaps it’s because they’ve survived the perceived ‘hardest part.’ They’re done with the USMLE Step 1. The classroom learning is in the rearview mirror. Their education simulates the work of actual physicians. Therefore, it’s easier for them to visualize their final goal of practicing medicine.

Depression and suicidal thoughts are serious issues. If you think you may be struggling with one or both of them, please seek out professional guidance right away. Also, don’t turn to psychiatric drugs as they only make such problems worse. If you are heading to medical school, try to get a good support system lined up to help you through those first three critical years.

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