Depression among medical students

J Affect Disord. Jul-Aug 1986;11(1):91-6. doi: 10.1016/0165-0327(86)90065-0.


304 first- and second-year medical students were prospectively assessed for depression with a monthly Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Students scoring above nine on the BDI and a control group were then interviewed with the NIMH Diagnostic Interview Schedule. The incidence of major depression or probable major depression by DSM-III criteria during the first two years of medical school was 12%. The lifetime prevalence was 15%, three times greater than the rate in the general population. An episode of depression prior to medical school was much more common among the depressed students (69 vs. 8%, P less than 0.001) as was a family history of treated depression (46 vs. 21%, P less than 0.025). The elevated rate of depression during medical school does not appear to be a result of the medical school experience alone. Rather, it suggests a positive bias of unknown nature in the selection of students predisposed to depression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bipolar Disorder / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychological Tests
  • Students, Medical / psychology*