Ascertain the prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms in medical students, considering data in the literature that indicate higher vulnerability to emotional disorders in this population.
A descriptive cross-sectional study with a sample of 657 (98%) students. The instruments used were: questionnaire of socioeconomic-demographic characteristics, Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory.
Predominance of the female gender (61%), aged between 17 and 30 years (98%), Catholic religion (64.2%) from the city of São Paulo (40.7%) and other cities in the state (35.7%); 30% presented depressive symptoms and 21% anxiety symptoms. Female students had higher scores both for depression (34.8%) and for anxiety (26.8%). As regards the course year, the highest rates were found in the 5th year (40.7%) for depression and in the 2nd year for anxiety (28.8%).
The data obtained in this study (30%) agreed with the literature regarding the prevalence of depressive symptoms in medical students, but this index was higher compared to the population in general (15.1% to 16.8%), and related to people in São Paulo city (18.5%). Concerning anxiety the rates found were slightly lower than those in specific literature but higher than those in literature for the population in general (8% to 18%) and in city São Paulo (16.8%). These indices indicate that the school of medicine may play a role as a predisposing and/or triggering factor in some students. The results suggest that more attention should be directed to 5th year students, who are beginning the internship period.
Medical students; depression; anxiety