Depression and Physicians, Doctors, Medical Students

It may sound unfamiliar to you, but there is a link between depression and physicians. Statistics indicate that the rate of depression-related suicides among physicians and medical students is increasing year after the year.

While this is a very disturbing fact, it is noted that women physicians are more prone to depression as compared to their male counterparts. The need of the hour is to detect, diagnose, and treat the problem before it affects more physicians and healthcare workers.

Information available from data compiled over 30-40 years indicates that the number of physicians who commit suicide because of depression is higher than professionals or individuals from other professions.

Suicide committed due to depression is said to be 70 percent higher among male physicians as compared to men from other professions, and this is a huge percentage. Another alarming fact linking depression and physicians is that female physicians who commit suicide because of depression is 250 to 400 percent higher as compared to women in other professions.

The various causes for the link between high rate of depression and physicians / doctors as well as physician students are:

  • High intensity work that extends anywhere between 8 to 16 hours or more.

  • High levels of stress to demanding patients and families.

  • Dealing with disease, death, and depression among patients and family members. In our view, being around sick people all the time and being unable to help or cure many of them are surely important factors associating depression and physicians.

  • Irregular eating and sleeping habits.

  • Strained family relationships.

  • Inability to devote time for personal fitness and exercise programs.

  • Extremely demanding nature of work coupled with need to attend continuous education in order to keep updating oneself with regard to latest developments in the healthcare industry.

Similarly, there is another set of causes that could trigger the link between depression and physician students:

  • The pressures to study well, establish practice, and earn credibility.

  • Constant fear of not doing well in academics.

  • Increasing work load throughout the study program.

  • Uncertainty regarding future prospects personally and professionally.

  • Staying away from family for an extended period of time makes them lonely with no support system.

All of this combined with lack of sleep and irregular eating habits contribute heavily to medical students suffering from depression. Sometimes, physicians and physician students fail to recognize the symptoms themselves, more so because they start getting used to high-stress environments, and get sucked into depression without realizing it.

It is becoming increasingly important to conduct regular awareness seminars, de-stress programs, and discussions to ensure that physicians / doctors are aware of the possible factors which cause depression and learn to understand and combat them.

More often than not, fear of getting labeled as someone who has a history of psychiatric problems makes them stay away from seeking professional help. Therefore, it is extremely important to educate and create awareness when they are students so that they can learn to recognize, cope, and seek help when required.








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