Background: The burden of depression as a mental disorder has continued to increase and constituting an enormous public health concern among all age groups. A number of socio-demographic, and other factors including a stressful and rigorous academic programme or curriculum such as the one run in most medical schools could contribute to the occurrence of depression among medical students.
AIM: To determine the socio-demographic and other factors associated with depression among medical students in the University of Port Harcourt.
Methodology: This study was a descriptive cross-sectional study. Appropriate sample size was calculated and the stratified random sampling method was used to select the subjects. A well-structured open ended self-administered socio-demographic questionnaire was administered to the students. The Zung Self-Rated Depression Scale was used to assess the depression status of each respondent. The data were analyzed via descriptive and analytical methods.
Results: The prevalence of depression among the medical students was 5.3%. Fourteen students (4.6%) were mildly depressed while only two respondents had moderate depression. Year 3 had the highest prevalence with 10.5% followed by final year with 5.3%, while the only 2 cases of moderate depression were found among students in year 2 of their medical programme. Two hundred and seventy-one respondents (88.8%) were found to have good knowledge of depression, 32 (10.5%) were found to have average knowledge of depression and 2(0.7%) had poor knowledge of depression.
Conclusion: Depression does occur among medical students at the University of Port Harcourt albeit low, and was associated with a number of socio-demographic and other factors. The present medical curriculum and programme should be sustained and more efforts at making it less stressful and academically friendly, be made to further reduce the current rate of psychological stress and depression among the students.