Does too much study cause mental illness?

2018-04-22 23:49:05

I've often heard that students (science/math Ph.D. candidates, in particular) who study too diligently and for long periods over longer spells develop mental health problems like depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, etc. That students should "take a break" or they'll "crack" is also an adage resounding on campuses worldwide.

Are there any merits to these claims?

Here's a list of things to do to manage stress:

Decrease or Discontinue Caffeine

Regular Exercise

Relaxation/Meditation

Sleep

Time-outs and Leisure

Realistic Expectations

Reframing

Belief Systems

Ventilation/Support System

Humor

Notice how many of these the hard-working students are NOT doing?

High stress is associated with mental illness. Here and here are two studies specifically about students (there are many more making the connection regardless of occupation), though the first of them mentions that Norwegian med school students overall don't have more mental health issues th

  • Here's a list of things to do to manage stress:

    Decrease or Discontinue Caffeine

    Regular Exercise

    Relaxation/Meditation

    Sleep

    Time-outs and Leisure

    Realistic Expectations

    Reframing

    Belief Systems

    Ventilation/Support System

    Humor

    Notice how many of these the hard-working students are NOT doing?

    High stress is associated with mental illness. Here and here are two studies specifically about students (there are many more making the connection regardless of occupation), though the first of them mentions that Norwegian med school students overall don't have more mental health issues than the general population.

    In conclusion: Not relaxing can lead to stress-related issues, but you don't need to specifically study quantum electrodynamics to become depressed - studying hard and worrying about passing that exam (and possibly being a foreign student in a strange culture, see here) suffices.

    2018-04-22 23:52:13