Affecting approximately 6.7 percent of American adults every year, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Although word “depression” is often used as a synonym for sadness, it is much more than that – a serious mental disorder that needs immediate medical treatment. Untreated depression can lead to chronic mental disorder or induce suicidal thoughts in the patient.
Today, a lot of people find their job to be the culprit behind depression and other mental health conditions. When it comes to medical profession, the prevalence of depression increases manifold, which results in increased medical error and poor patient care. Known as physician depression, the condition is commonly seen in resident doctors, which results in high suicide rates among medicos.
Need to devise effective strategies for preventing and treating depression among doctors in training
According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), one in four young doctors experiences symptoms of depression. The study highlighted that depression in doctors is not only detrimental to the new doctors themselves but also to the patients they care for. “The increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients,” observed the study.
As part of the study, the researchers analyzed depressed symptoms in over 17,500 medical residents, after collating the data from 54 different studies conducted over a period of five decades. According to the findings, 28.8 percent of physicians-in-training exhibited signs of depression, with the rate of its occurrence increasing significantly during the study period.
It has been observed that doctors are more hesitant and secretive about their mental health condition than the general population owed to the stigma attached to mental disabilities. Many doctors believe that it is their responsibility to stay fit, both physically and mentally. Therefore, when they are diagnosed with a serious mental disorder such as depression, to them it could mean an end of their career as well as reputation.
According to Dr. Srijan Sen, MD, Ph.D., senior author of the study and a member of University of Michigan's Depression Center, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, “The increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients. ”
To combat this dilemma, many resident doctors with depression seek refuge in illegal drugs and alcohol. In most cases, alcohol abuse or dependence is a direct result of distress, including emotional exhaustion, suicidal ideation, depression and quality of life, found in doctors, especially surgeons. At times, the higher rate of substance abuse in doctors can be attributed to their easy access to drugs and substances, as compared to the general population.
Leading a depression-free life is possible
If not raised timely, depression may mar the quality of life. The constant suffering and pain push people into darkness and grief. It is necessary to seek expert advice to rid oneself of making depression a way of life. By seeking professional or medical help as quickly as possible, one can significantly alleviate problems and challenges.