A Study to Assess the Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety among Medical Students of a Teaching Hospital in South India

Author(s): Tinju James1

BACKGROUND Depression and anxiety are serious mental health problems, which can negatively affect the quality of life of an individual. Studies have shown an increasing prevalence of depression and anxiety among medical students compared to nonmedical students. This has to be addressed to ensure the mental wellbeing as well as quality of medical professionals. METHODS A cross sectional study was conducted among 206 medical students to assess the prevalence of depression and anxiety using a Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ9) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire (GAD-7) respectively. Scores obtained from these were assessed to grade the prevalence of depression and anxiety. RESULTS 206 students (70 males and 136 females) were enrolled in the study, out of which 35%, 34% and 31% belong to first year, second year and final year of their medical study. The prevalence of depression and anxiety among the study group was 67.3% and 52.5% respectively. The mean PHQ-9 score among first year, second year and final year were 8.21 ± 4.74, 7.46 ± 4.48 and 5.27 ± 4.57 respectively and the GAD-7 score for first year, second year and final year students were 6.78 ± 4.85, 5.39 ± 4.45 and 4.29 ± 3.84 respectively. Both PHQ-9 score as well as GAD-7 score obtained for first year medical students were significantly different from students of final year (p < 0.001, p<0.01). A significant increase in the percentage of severe depression was seen among first year medical students, compared to the rest (p value <0.05). This study showed that first year students were having significantly higher grade of moderate and severe anxiety, whereas final year students experience more of mild anxiety compared to the rest of the year of study (p value <0.05). An increased prevalence of moderate and severe depression as well as anxiety was noted among female medical students compared to males. CONCLUSIONS This study showed an increased prevalence of depression and anxiety among medical students, especially higher during the first year of medical study. Proper guidance and mental support through counselling should be made available to the needed students to ensure the quality of medical professionals. Further studies are needed to identify the type of stressors that affect the mental wellbeing and to plan the interventions.