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Apr 24, 2017 10:26 AM EDT

Taking a PhD, regardless of the subject is an experience like no other. It is challenging and is never easy. This is why, people who have chosen this path find the experience very stressful. In fact, a Belgian study has recently revealed that students who are pursuing PhD degrees are more likely to suffer from psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, and high levels of stress.

In the study, 3,659 students were enrolled in PhD programs were surveyed at the universities in Flanders, Belgium, Big Think reported. Roughly 50 percent of these students have reported symptoms of poor mental health conditions, and what's worse is that one-third of the respondents have reported experiencing at least four type of symptoms, which is really worse compared to their highly educated peers.

Some of the most common symptoms reported were feelings of depression, constant strain, unhappiness, sleeplessness and others, And based on the study, one of the biggest reason that influences the psychological distress is when students are prevented from meeting the needs of their families due to work. But the researchers have not drawn the conclusions yet on what exactly causes the problems.

On the other, it was observed that there are a few things which helped control the symptoms. The students who have had inspirational supervisors, those who have straight and clear plans about their careers are the ones who have exhibited less symptoms of poor mental health.

This means that universities must be able to do something about this. According to Inside Higher Ed, mental health issues are one of the biggest obstacles to the success of graduate students, and it is not enough that universities offer counselling programs. They must acknowledge the problem and come up with solutions to help destress their students. As far as the researchers are concerned, they also suggest that colleges should take efforts to help students achieve healthy work-family balance and workload.

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