The mental health of doctors in America is suffering. According to a 2018 National Physician Burnout and Depression Report, many physicians say they are depressed or burned out – and female physicians have higher rates.
Here are some of the specific findings from the study, which polled more than 15,000 doctors in 29 specialties.
- 42% or physicians reported being burned out.
- Physicians in critical care, neurology, and family medicine had the highest rates of burnout.
- Plastic surgery, dermatology, and pathology had the lowest rates.
- Specialists with the lowest rates were more likely to seek mental health help.
- 14% of physicians reported being both burned out and depressed. The specialties with the highest rates of co-occurring depression and burnout were obstetrics and gynecology (20%), public health and preventive medicine (18%), urology (17%), neurology (17%).
- 12% of physicians said they experience symptoms of depression, and 3% reported clinical depression.
And, not surprisingly, many physicians admitted that their mental health affected patient care, making them more easily exasperated and frustrated, less engaged and more likely to make errors.
“Physician wellbeing is important because physicians who care for themselves will do a better job caring for others, and are less likely to make medical errors or leave the profession,” Dr. Carol Bernstein, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association and professor of psychiatry and neurology at NYU Langone Health in New York City, told Reuters Health. “Concern about the stigma related to seeking mental health services is overwhelming, in part due to anxiety about licensure, credentialing and hospital privileging.”
Sadly, while resources to prevent burnout and reduce stress are available, only a small percentage of hospitals, practices and clinics offer them to their doctors.
Help for Physicians Who Self-Medicate
Using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for burnout or depression is a dangerous path – and one that can quickly lead to dependence. Providence Treatment prides itself on being a supportive and effective alcohol and drug rehab for doctors. To learn more, call (866) 622-6211.