According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression, which affects nearly 350 million people across the world, is the primary cause of disability globally. In severe cases, depression can lead to suicide, with more than 800,000 people taking their own lives, every year.
Although a variety of factors can be attributed to the onset of mental disorders, high-stress situations in one’s profession can be the root cause of depression, in certain cases. And when it comes to health care professionals, mental disorders such as depression can be highly devastating, since having a mental illness carries a stigma and can impact the professional standing of a doctor.
Rising cases of depression among doctors
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), medical doctors, dentists, and vets reportedly suffer from depression and other mood disorders. Surprisingly, depression is the leading cause of medical errors committed by doctors, as well as for poor quality patient care. Sadly, millions of doctors do not seek any treatment for their mental ailment due to the fear of stigma, thereby deteriorating the condition.
A September 2016 study by the University of Michigan Health System, published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, suggested that even though doctors inspire their patients to reveal their mental health problems, they shy away from disclosing their own mental health concerns due to the fear of stigma associated with mental health issues. The study assessed the online surveys performed over roughly 2,100 female physicians through a Facebook group for doctors who were also mothers. The doctors were questioned about their personal mental health during their career. Approximately, half of them admitted to having met the criteria for a mental health condition at some point and about two-thirds of them admitted to not taking any treatment due to the fear of stigma.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it was found that nearly 30 percent of young doctors had symptoms of depression. Alarmingly, such rising cases of depression among doctors can have negative repercussions, such as suicide.
Causes of higher depression rates among doctors
Doctors are prone to depression owing to an array of factors such as lengthy hours at work, sleep deprivation, bullying by other physicians and stigmatized attitude toward mental illness, etc. Here are some of the common reasons triggering depression among doctors:
- Doctors, especially resident doctors, have to work in a negative sociocultural work environment. They have long working hours, suffer from insomnia and also subjected to bullying by fellow or senior physicians.
- Most physicians have to struggle hard with their professional and personal life, particularly the female doctors who are at a higher risk of depression because of the pressure to maintain a balance between the family and professional commitments.
- The fear of social stigma and various psychological obstructions, such as negative social image in front of the family and colleagues, may thwart doctors from taking treatment.
- The fear of being shunned by seniors for their troubled behavior may also lead many young doctors to repudiate illness, resort to self-medication, and avoid treatment.
- Medical professionals are always under the fear of a lawsuit by patients due to their medical negligence, which builds a mounting mental stress on them.
Depression among doctors can have a serious impact on patients. For the doctors suffering from depression, there is always a threat of serious medical negligence. Mental health problems make the normally empathetic doctor appear harsh and irritating. Depression and other mental health problems can lead to substance and alcohol abuse among doctors, and in most severe cases, it can lead to suicidal tendencies.
Depression is curable
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, contact the Florida Depression Helpline to know about certified depression rehabs in Florida that can suggest evidence-based treatment plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-267-5177 or chat online with our experts for complete details on depression treatment centers in Florida.