Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health

 

Ph.D. candidates suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation at astonishingly high rates.

“I was always gung ho about going to graduate school for some reason,” reflects Everet Rummel, a data analyst at the City University of New York. “That was naive.”

Rummel was indeed gung ho, embarking on a doctoral program in economics immediately after completing both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years. He was only 22 years old. And Rummel was indeed naive, at least in his own telling of his plans. That plan—which for the average doctoral candidate takes roughly eight years—ended quickly, not because of Rummel’s characteristic efficiency but because he never completed it. “I dropped out,” he explains, attributing the decision to a lot of different factors, many of them not directly related to his studies, but each pointing back to the all-encompassing, unforgiving stress of his Ph.D. program.

One major stressor, he says, was the requirement that all first-year Ph.D. economics students take the same three courses. But other major stressors are likely to resonate with graduate students in all kinds of disciplines. The doctoral-degree experience often consists of intense labor expectations for little pay and a resulting lack of sleep and social life. In addition, there is the notorious hierarchy of academia,  which often promotes power struggles and tribalism.

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7 Fascinating Ways Exercise Changes Your Brain

When most of us think of the health effects of working out, we tend to think about how it affects our body. But staying active can do more than changing the way your body looks — it can affect your mind as well. There a number of surprising ways that exercise can change your brain, and once you discover how important physical activity is for your cognition and mental health, you might never looking at going to the gym the same way again.

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