The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. I. Setting the Stage
Background and Need
One of the major contributors to depression is the high stress level inherent in the American society (Clark & Zeldow, 1988). Students in professional programs such as medical school, which require especially rigorous study, have an inordinately high level of stress (Hojat, Glaser, XU, Veloski & Christian, 1999). The demanding academic training of students in other health professions, for example physical therapy, often results not only in stress, but also symptoms of burnout:
studying, excessive homework, attending uninteresting yet fast-paced classes, while taking extensive notes while at the same time having a lack of free time, and the strain placed on relationships are some of the academic stressors and cause of burnout faced by physical therapy students. Students of the health professions are highly stressed and experience symptoms of burnout well before they graduate and enter the workforce. One physical therapy graduate student added to the factors contributing to this stress by commenting that the lack of control students have over their education, the lack of free time, the strain placed on personal relationships, the accrued financial debt, the lack of communication and connectedness, and diminished sense of personal achievement transform the educational experience into a “nullifying test of endurance rather than the engaging and appropriate entry to a profession originally chosen with enthusiasm and good faith” (DiGiacomo & Adamson, 2001, p. 231).