Approximately one-third of US resident doctors is depressive, according to a study recently published.
Mata et al. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Harvard Medical School conducted a systematic review to gather the evidence regarding prevalence rate of depression among resident doctors. The result of a meta-analysis suggested that 28.8% of the subjects had some depressive symptoms.
JAMA: Prevalence of Depression and Depressive Symptoms Among Resident Physicians. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
The high prevalence in resident doctors has been suspected since some decades ago. The US government repeatedly amended the working standard of residents not to spoil them due to overwork. However, the psychiatric status of residents seems to be worsening, according to the authors.
This study is a systematic review with meta-analyses. Thus, the authors did not gather raw data from the doctors. Its reliability depends on the original studies evaluated in this article.
I am doubtful about the preciseness of previous reports, to be honest. If one-third of residents were really depressive, many hospitals in the US would be out of control. I guess some studies emphasized the severe environment around the residents. Also, depressive symptoms were identified in a casual way (e.g. “Do you feel you are depressed occasionally?” Most residents would say yes to this question.) in some studies. The results of such studies should be biased.
Similarly, some US studies overestimate the prevalence rate of mental disorders, I think. According to a report, one-fifth of US citizens has PTSD. Even considering the situation of gun control in the US, I hardly believe that one-fifth of citizens is suffering from the flashback of some fatal accidents.
Nonetheless, it is true that standing as a resident doctor in the US is quite tough. I respect them.
In Japan, the situation is similar, but not so serious compared to the US. The working environment of resident doctors in Japan has been improved in these decades. I hope everyone can work with minimal stress.