Medical students face a constant barrage of stress on a daily basis. From academic to professional to personal responsibilities, many students have trouble balancing. Oftentimes, they keep up their academic and professional commitments at the expense of their sleep, recreation, or relationships—all aspects essential to maintaining mental health. Hence, it is not surprising that 51% Of the medical students reported symptoms of depression and 67% expressed feelings of anxiety. In response, there has been a growing interest across medical schools towards student wellness. For example, file Vanderbilt School of Medicine He founded the Vanderbilt Medical Student Wellness Program to improve student well-being and mental health through an Olympic-like intercollegiate competition, peer mentoring, and the formation of an active, multidisciplinary wellness committee.
One subtype of depression that is relatively common in those in their twenties is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern. Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that often occurs in the fall and winter and shifts during the spring and summer. During these months, the sun rises late and sets early, reducing one’s exposure to natural light. Caused by exposure to depleted light Neurological and psychological changes It is associated with “depressed mood, loss of pleasure, altered appetite, sleep disturbances, low energy, neurocognitive dysfunction or suicidal ideation/behaviour.” These symptoms can seriously impair a student’s ability to learn and function. The most common grief affects women and those who live far from the equator. Likewise, many students move to medical school in a new geographic area, often moving to a latitude farther from the equator, which makes them more likely to develop social anxiety disorder.
Treatments for seasonal affective disorder include psychotherapy, antidepressants, or light therapy. When choosing between interventions, it is critical to weigh the benefits against the costs, whether they are time-related, side effects, or financial consequences. Several studies have suggested that bright light therapy (BLT) is effective in treating mild to moderate seasonal affective disorder. a dimensional analysis Among eight randomized controlled trials, BLT was found to be effective in treating SAD symptoms with an effect size of 0.84, which is comparable to the benefits of antidepressants.
BLT has shown to be effective in managing a wide range of other mental illnesses. a dimensional analysis Among nine trials looking at the relationship between bright light therapy and non-seasonal unipolar depression, I found that BLT as monotherapy improved depressive symptoms. Similarly, in adults with ADHD, one study showed that adjuvant BLT has been shown to improve subjective and objective symptoms of ADHD.
A key feature of medical education is preparing students for the rigors of residency training. This setup typically includes 24-hour call shifts and night service periods. For many students, this will be the first time they will have to work in a professional environment at these hours, and it can be difficult to adjust. As such, it may be beneficial to build healthy, lasting habits early in the training so that students can adjust more easily to the accommodation experience. BLT lights are easy to use. CURRENT RECOMMENDATIONS It involves the use of a “full-spectrum 10,000 lux light bulb, at an angle of 30 degrees from line of sight” for 30 minutes each morning shortly after waking. Lamps range from $25 to $35 on e-commerce sites. Studies warn users to avoid staring directly at a light source at the risk of damaging users’ vision. This treatment has been shown to be well tolerated in the general population.
Due to the advantages of BLT, minimal side effects and relative affordability, it may be beneficial for medical schools to provide access to BLT lamps for students. The authors of this article founded the Bright Light Lamp Checkout Program at Albany Medical College. As part of the Functional Medicine Interest Group, we purchased three BLT lamps to store in an easily accessible location in the library. With a simple self-propelled system, students have the option to take the lamp to a desk/table in the library or even take the lamp home temporarily. Anecdotally, these lamps were well received by students, with many students reporting improved mood and ability to focus. Objective research to assess the effects of BLT on students’ mood and academic performance is meriting.
Symptoms of depression are common in medical students. Many of these symptoms can be linked to seasonal affective disorder caused by seasonal changes, shifting sleep schedules, and nighttime occupational responsibilities. BLT is a promising, cost-effective solution with a low-risk profile that medical schools can use to help improve the acute and long-term well-being of medical students.
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