Doctors and Depression: Suffering in Silence
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Shyam Kumar
Doctors and Depression: Suffering in Silence
Doctors get sad, like anyone else. So how do doctors cope when sad days turn into weeks, even months? Are there unique factors that lead to physician depression? Are doctors different from the general population in the way in which they respond to depression? What treatments do doctors seek or avoid?
Here's what many depressed doctors do: Nothing. Or they try things that don't help.
Doctors also experience depression for the same reasons the general public does: for example, a failing marriage or the death of a loved one. Yet even in these cases, being a physician may make common depression risk factors even riskier.
Common Risk Factors for Depression
A failing marriage
Social isolation
Death of a spouse
Financial distress
Family history of depression

What Do Depressed Doctors Do?
So what do doctors do when they're depressed? Do they just go to the doctor? Most don't.
Many doctors do nothing. Medical training teaches us to "suck it up," so help-seeking is not a well-honed skill among doctors. Many lack self-awareness that they are suffering from depression. Because the majority of doctors are overworked, exhausted, and discontent, they don't necessarily see themselves as outliers. They've normalized their misery and pretend that it's not as bad as it seems. Distraction, avoidance, and denial are popular tactics among depressed doctors.
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