Plight of PhD pursuers: Study finds 62% science and 84% non-science researchers display signs of depression

This study was conducted by interviewing as many as 240 PhD students from both science and non-science students from the state of Kerala
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: TNIE)
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: TNIE)

A study found that 68 per cent of students pursuing PhD suffer from one depressive disorder or another and among them, 27 per cent have moderate to severe depressive disorders. When it comes to non-science students, the conditions is much more severe than that of science students. While 62 per cent of science PhD students show signs of depression, the figure is pegged at 84 per cent for non-science students.

When it comes to PhD students from economically weaker sections of society, who not only have restricted command over local languages and earn less than Rs 20,000, they were likely to suffer from moderate to severe depressive disorders. Monetary hardships, difference of opinion with supervisors, students' support service that is compromised and an unsteady job market are some key parameters that affect not just the mental health of students but academic performance as well. It was analyses of interviews with PhD students that brought to the fore these parameters.

Pic: Edexlive

Dr KR Thankappan from the department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Central University of Kerala was part of the team that conducted the research that involved 240 PhD students, from both science and non-science streams from public universities in Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram, who were interviewed. Since there was a growing prevalence of depressive disorders, especially among PhD students, and upon that there is limited systematic study on this with regards to the Indian context, the study was conducted. "In post-COVID times, it is most likely to have increased, especially due to the fear of lack of employment opportunities," says Dr Thankappan in a report by The Times of India.

The study established that there is a growing concern with regards to depressive disorders among Kerala's doctoral students. Some disorders require attention at the university level, but factors such as financial issues and employment fear would require "systemic and policy interventions in a coordinated manner", he reportedly said.

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