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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2014, Article ID 737382, 8 pages
Research Article

Medical Students’ Experience of and Reaction to Stress: The Role of Depression and Anxiety

Division of Psychology (& Behavioural Sciences), International Medical University, No. 126, Jalan Jalil Perkasa 19, Bukit Jalil, 57000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Received 23 August 2013; Accepted 30 October 2013; Published 29 January 2014

Academic Editors: M. F. Casanova and L. Tait

Copyright © 2014 Coumaravelou Saravanan and Ray Wilks. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Medical school is recognized as a stressful environment that often has a negative effect on students’ academic performance, physical health, and psychosocial well-being. Previous studies have not identified differences between depressed and nondepressed and anxious and nonanxious medical students’ experiences of stress or their reactions to stressors. The present study aimed to identify the prevalence of depression and anxiety among a sample of 358 medical students attending a private university in Malaysia and to examine differences according to participants’ gender, year of study, and stage of training (preclinical and clinical). Additionally, this study examined the extent to which stress predicts depression and anxiety, differences between depressed and nondepressed medical students’ experiences of and reactions to stressors, and differences between anxious and nonanxious medical students’ experiences of and reactions to stressors. Methods. The Student Life Stress Inventory was used to measure stress and reaction to stressors and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale was used to measure depression and anxiety. Results. The results showed that 44% ( ) of the students were anxious and 34.9% ( ) were depressed. More female students exhibited anxiety compared to male students. Stress is a predictor for depression and anxiety. A significant difference was found between depressed and nondepressed and anxious and nonanxious students’ experience of stressors due to frustration, change, and their emotional reaction to stressors. Conclusion. Overall, depressed and anxious students were found to experience more stress and react differently to stressors compared to nondepressed and nonanxious students.