Mental health issues are more likely to affect graduate students than other Americans, writes Prateek Puri, a graduate student at University of California, Los Angeles, at Scientific American.
A recent survey of more than 500 PhD students in economics found that 18 percent experienced moderate or severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, which, the researchers from Harvard University noted in their working paper, is more than three times the national average. They further found their population felt lonely and isolated and that only about a quarter say they think their work is always or mostly useful.
Puri writes that the situation appears similar in the sciences. He suggests that how graduate school is set up might contribute to graduate students' feelings of despondency as, for instance, students may spend upwards of 60 hours a week on research for low pay and the requirements to graduate can vary by advisor. He notes that when students do graduate, they face tough job prospects.
"As a student, it's can be easy to doubt whether you're pursuing work that will ever be useful, producing a sense of meaninglessness for some that can facilitate depression," Puri adds.