Long shifts and high pressure at work increases risk of depression among paramedics in Melbourne, The Age reports from a recent research report.

The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Organisational Psychology suggests that high levels of anxiety, stress and fatigue plague these paramedics.

Among the 342 paramedics considered for the study, about 10 per cent of them suffer from severe depression, 12 per cent of them suffer from moderate levels and 14 per cent are diagnosed of a mild form of the mental illness. Emergency cases have increased by 50 per cent over the past decade.

Reporting that most paramedics often work overtime, Professor Francis said 72 per cent of them were poor sleepers. Ambulance Employees Australia State secretary Steve McGhie reiterated that they often even had difficulty taking half-hour meal breaks.

Poor sleepers often translate to higher risk of depression and anxiety. In addition, he says they are under high pressure all the time, as they often never know what they are going to encounter from one minute to the next.

After five paramedics committed suicide the preceding year, Ambulance Victoria has now established a working group to review paramedics' mental health this year.