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National Doctors' Day 2019: Why Doctors Suffer From Anxiety & Depression

In India, National Doctor's Day is observed on 1st July every year to create awareness about the importance, roles and responsibilities of doctors, and to encourage medical professionals to come closer and take their responsibilities. This year the Doctor's day theme is "Zero tolerance to violence against doctors and clinical establishment".

More often than not, we tend to forget about the importance of doctors in our lives and that they also do suffer from mental health problems like stress, anxiety, and depression.

According to a survey published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 30% of doctors in India are suffering from depression and 17% of doctors have thought of committing suicide [1] .

Another study published in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences shows that, mild to moderate anxiety and depression were revealed in 34% and 24.8% of doctors respectively [2] .

What Are The Major Causes Of Depression Among Doctors? [3]

  • Mood disorders
  • Alcoholism
  • Substance abuse
  • Burnout and exhaustion
  • Lack of family time
  • Extremely high levels of educational debt
  • Public blame of doctors for issues outside their control, like lab fees and other costs.
  • Lack of sleep
  • Difficult relationships with senior doctors, staff and patients
  • Dealing with death
  • Loneliness
  • Self-criticism

Mental Health Conditions Doctors Suffer From

Burnout, clinically depressed, and colloquially depressed are some mental health conditions that doctors suffer from. According to a 2019 report in Medscape, 44% of physicians felt burned out, 11% were colloquially depressed, and 4% were clinically depressed.

Burnout is referred to as long-term job stress that is unresolvable,

which leads to exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed, detached, doubtful from the job, and lacking a sense of personal achievement.

Colloquial depression makes you feel sad, or down. Clinical depression is a severe form of depression that is not caused by a normal grief-associated event.

A study published in the Emergency Medicine Journal, found that the highest prevalent rate of depression among doctors is in females as compared to males [4] .

Do Doctors Seek Treatment?

Mood disorders and depression can go unrecognised and inadequately treated in physicians because they might be reluctant to seek treatment, attempt to diagnose and treat themselves, and try and receive VIP treatment from other health care professionals.

Another major obstacle for doctors not seeking medical treatment is the stigma associated with it. The fear of stigma is what keeps them away from receiving professional help.

To Conclude...

The issue is alarming and a warning sign, because India relatively has low doctor to patient density. If more and more doctors commit suicide due to depression, this should give us a reason to make us think about the issue more than ever.

View Article References
  1. [1] Grover, S., Sahoo, S., Bhalla, A., & Avasthi, A. (2018). Psychological problems and burnout among medical professionals of a tertiary care hospital of North India: A cross-sectional study.Indian journal of psychiatry,60(2), 175.
  2. [2] Atif, K., Khan, H. U., Ullah, M. Z., Shah, F. S., & Latif, A. (2016). Prevalence of anxiety and depression among doctors; the unscreened and undiagnosed clientele in Lahore, Pakistan.Pakistan journal of medical sciences,32(2), 294–298.
  3. [3] Firth-Cozens J. Individual and organizational predictors of depression in general practitioners. Br J Gen Practice. 1998;48:1647-1651.
  4. [4] Erdur, B., Ergin, A., Turkcuer, I., Parlak, I., Ergin, N., & Boz, B. (2006). A study of depression and anxiety among doctors working in emergency units in Denizli, Turkey.Emergency medicine journal : EMJ,23(10), 759–763.
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