Symptoms of anxiety and depression in Estonian medical students with sleep problems

Triin Eller, Anu Aluoja, Veiko Vasar, Marlit Veldi
Depression and Anxiety 2006, 23 (4): 250-6
High emotional stress in medical students has been observed in many studies. Our aim in this article was to assess the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression among Estonian medical students and to find relationships between sleep complaints and emotional symptoms. The study group consisted of 413 medical students, ages 19-33 years, at the University of Tartu. Each was asked to complete two questionnaires: the Emotional State Questionnaire (EST-Q), containing 28 questions, and the Questionnaire on Sleep and Daytime Habits, with 25 questions. The anxiety and depression subscales from the EST-Q were applied. From the study group, 21.9% students had symptoms of anxiety, and 30.6% had symptoms of depression. The frequency of anxiety and depressive symptoms was higher in females. In regression and multiple regression analysis, we determined which sleep problems were related to emotional symptoms. The associations were different for men and women. In women, anxiety remained significantly related to waking up because of nightmares and feeling tired in the morning; depressive symptoms were related to difficulties in getting to sleep at night, waking up because of nightmares and nocturnal eating habits, daytime sleepiness, and sleepiness during school lessons. In men, significant relations were clear only for depression: difficulties in falling asleep at night before an exam and subjective sleep quality. The study demonstrated that a high percentage of medical students had emotional symptoms. We found that some sleep problems indicated underlying symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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