The Incidence of Anxiety and Depression in Physical Therapy Students. II. Hypothesis, Research Question and Literature Review
Dammeyer et al. (1999) reviewed the literature to evaluate anxiety and depression among law students. They found that self-reports of anxiety and depression are significantly higher among law students than among either the general population or medical students. Another study (Helmers, et al., 1977) compared depression and stress levels of medical students, law students and graduate students at McGill University. Results showed that medical students had subjective feelings of stress that were marginally above the general population norms, but their total depression scores were below those of the general population, law students and graduate students. A final study looking at law students and stress (McIntosh, et al., 1994) examined gender differences in first year law students’ reports of stress and psychological health. Women reported greater strain and displayed more depression and physical symptoms by the end of their first year of law school.
Other than medical and law students, only a couple of additional studies were found that looked at a relationship between graduate school in general, and incidence of stress, anxiety and depression. Goplerud (1980) reported that over half of the first and second year graduate students tested on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS; Holmes & Masuda, 1974) reported life changes that placed them in the life crisis scale category. Factors contributing to this were changes in work, finances, living conditions, school and social relationships, which take place during the first few weeks of graduate study. Because of the substantial empirical support for links between major life changes and a long list of health and emotional disorders (Dohrenwend & Dohrenwend, 1974) graduate school marks the beginning of a period of high risk for physical and psychological problems among first year students. After freshmen, graduate students have been shown to be the most frequent users of psychiatric services in the university community (Halleck, 1966). One avenue that has been shown to help minimize the negative effects of change has been support networks during high stress transition periods. Individuals who are linked to supportive groups have been found to perform both academically and professionally better than their more socially isolated colleagues (Hall, 1969), experience less emotional and physical distress (Arnold, 1967), and suffer fewer severe physical and psychiatric illnesses than socially isolated persons (Bloom, 1975).