Prevalence of depressive and anxiety symptoms in medical students in the city of Santos

Prevalência de sintomas depressivos e ansiosos em alunos de medicina na cidade de Santos

Rosana Denobile Serra Sandra Lopes Mattos e Dinato Marcos Montani Caseiro About the authors



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

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