Who knew studying economics was such a downer?

Inside Higher Ed reports:

A Very Mixed Record on Grad Student Mental Health

From impostor syndrome and other feelings of being out of place, to periods of isolation and to constant short- and long-term deadlines, graduate school presents serious potential challenges to students’ mental health. There’s also financial strain, navigating complex relationships with advisers and colleagues, the job market, and myriad other worries.

Despite that, there are relatively little large-scale data on graduate student mental health. There isn’t much research on the topic to begin with, and those studies that do exist tend to be small in scale or have low response rates, or both. Things are changing: a widely cited study from earlier this year involving several thousand graduate students found that they were six times more likely than the general population to experience anxiety and depression. It called the matter a “crisis.” Still, most campus efforts at improving students’ psychological well-being have been focused on undergraduates…

Barreira’s new paper is based on eight programs in economics, housed at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton and Yale Universities, the University of Michigan, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California campuses in Berkeley and San Diego.

About 18 percent of students experienced moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, compared to about 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, among 25- to 34-year-olds in the general U.S. population, according to one 2013 study. Eleven percent of respondents, or 56 people, reported having suicidal thoughts on at least several days within the previous two weeks. One-quarter of students had been previously diagnosed with a mental health issue, about half of them before the Ph.D. program and half after…

Moreover, the study says, “the prevalence of depression and anxiety symptoms among economics Ph.D. students is comparable to the prevalence found in incarcerated populations.” Loneliness and isolation are major issues, too, as “the average economics Ph.D. student feels considerably lonelier and more isolated than a retired American.” Women and international students are most affected.

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