The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. I. Setting the Stage
In addition to the stress physical therapy students endure daily with required rigorous study, they currently face the additional stress of possibly being unemployed when they graduate. With the advent of managed care and health maintenance organizations (HMO’s), the medical community has experienced tremendous changes in the environment and administration of health care. The amount of care a patient is allowed to receive reflects a major shift in health care. The predominance of managed health care has resulted in fewer allowable treatment visits, and there is less available work overall for the physician and physical therapist. In the history of the physical therapy profession, unemployment has never been an issue, that is, until the advent of managed care. Students in professional physical therapy programs have grown increasingly aware that they may graduate and not be able to find full-time work. With outstanding student loans that they will begin to repay shortly after they graduate, this fact is discouraging and demoralizing for these students.
With the effective medications now available, along with many other treatments that have been shown to be effective in treating depression and anxiety (Preston, Oneal & Talaga, 2001), subsequent anxious and depressive episodes might be preventable entirely if the condition is identified early enough. With prevention, unnecessary suffering and the high costs associated with anxiety and major depression along with the many other repercussions associated with these debilitating conditions may be reduced or eliminated.