Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 – Depression

Depression is the path that some of us take, when they can’t bear the heavy burdens of life anymore. It means surrendering to the feeling of guilt, which can cause the painful, emotional events of life to resurface. We all get the feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness from time to time, but not all of us will get depressed and lose the energy to fight for what we stand for or feel like life just passes by. At that point, life is at its darkest and it feels like the last light of the candle has gone out, like we’re screaming for help as loud as we can, without anyone being able to hear us. This can lead us to stop doing our tasks, start disregarding the world around us and lose sight of the beauty of our lives. But with the rise of every new dawn, also rises the realization that there might be light at the end of the tunnel. That somewhere out there, people are listening to our cries for help, and that somewhere we can find a ladder to help us climb out of our despair.

WHO defines depression as a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.
It can sometimes also lead to some somatic complaints. On the global record it is the leading cause of disability and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Depression is a potentially life-threatening mood disorder that affects a significant percentage of medical students. They suffer from mental disorders due to the long term effects of stress. Recent studies have highlighted this problem and addressed the issue nationally and globally.

Depression as a mental disorder is more common among medical students than in the general population. This fact was highlighted in a study among medical students in Germany, which displayed the risk of depression being 2.4 times higher than in the general population. Thus more than 23 percent showed clinically symptoms of depression.[1] This fact is strengthened by a survey showing that 48 out of 120 medical students in the city of Seoul, South-Korea appear to have depression.[2]

Medical students need to be given the right tools to recognize the symptoms of depression and cope with stress. Furthermore, they have to get assured that they will not suffer judgment from their peers for acknowledging their need for help.

Who among us doesn’t recognize the situation of being overloaded by a huge amount of information. To get the feeling of disappointment because of the inability to handle all the information and to struggle with our own capacity to meet the demands of the medical curriculum. We need to address the difficulty rather than to keep ignoring it and stigmatizing mental health problems as weakness or being unable to handle responsibilities. We have to be impartial about our struggles and becoming more supportive of one another in accepting (situational) mental disorders.

Let’s take a stand by increasing the awareness of the impact of depression and giving examples of coping strategies for students.

[1] Kamiar-K. Rueckert (2016). “Depression and Quality of Life in German Medical Students At Foreign Universities”. RSU International Conference Health and Social Science
[2] Jeong Y, Kim JY, Ryu JS, Lee KE, Ha EH, Park H. The associations between social support, health-related behaviors, socioeconomic status and depression in medical students. Epidemiol Health. 2010;32:e2010009.

Leave a Comment