Medical Professionals Are More Likely to Be Depressed

Medical Professionals Are More Likely to Be Depressed

Depression is a prevalent mental illness. According to the most recent (2015) World Health Organization estimates, 4.4% of the world’s population, or more than 320 million individuals, suffer from depression. Estimates place the number of South Africans among them at 2.4 million, or 4.6% of the local populace. Men are less likely than women to experience depression (5.1%), while the overall number of depressed persons is rising, especially in low-income nations where the population is aging and growing older. Depression had an overall point prevalence of 12.9%, a one-year prevalence of 7.2%, and a lifetime prevalence of 10.8%, according to a meta-analysis of studies conducted between 1994 and 2014.

Due to the vast range of diagnostic tools, it is challenging to determine the prevalence of depression. These inconsistencies show that studies employing self-rated depression scales may give much higher point prevalences of depression than those using physician ratings.

Compared to the general public and other occupational groups, doctors appear to experience depression more frequently.

Recent meta-analyses of international studies suggest a prevalence of up to 60% among practicing doctors and a prevalence of 27% among medical students and 29% among registrars.

These numbers vary greatly between nations and among specialties. For instance, a Cape Town study using the self-administered Beck’s Depression Inventory found that 30% of public primary healthcare doctors had clinically relevant moderate to severe depression, while an Australian study discovered that 18% of medical students and 21% of doctors had previously been diagnosed with depression.

In a comparison to men and older doctors, medical students, younger doctors, and women all reported higher rates of psychological distress and mental health issues. There is evidence that the prevalence of depression among doctors in America is comparable to that of the general population. While their mean age of onset was noticeably older, a cohort of male Johns Hopkins medical school graduates self-reported a lifetime prevalence of 12.8%, which was comparable to the 12% lifetime prevalence of serious depression in American men. The projected lifetime prevalence of depression in American female doctors is 19.5%, which is comparable to the total female population and women in professions. Except for Asian women physicians, whose rates are lower, it is believed that the incidence of depression is comparable among ethnic groups. 

Moreover, compared to the general population, medical students and registrars/residents had significantly higher cross-sectional and longitudinal prevalences of depression or depressive symptoms (15-43.2%), which also seem to rise with each passing academic year.

risk elements

Although anybody can experience depression, some factors such as genetic susceptibility, early traumatic life events, subsequent bereavement, illnesses, failed relationships, poverty, unemployment, and issues related to substance use enhance the risk.

Citation1 A recurring topic is stress acting as a catalyst. Compared to many other occupational groups, doctors are more exposed to stress at work, making them more susceptible to depression. These include long workdays, heavy workloads, the job’s increasing intensity and complexity, constant contact with sick and injured patients, high levels of responsibility, the healthcare industry’s rapid change, institutional obstacles like discrimination and intimidation, a lack of autonomy, inadequate support, a loss of job satisfaction, low morale, and the inability to take care of one’s personal affairs. While emergency care physicians and oncologists may experience certain symptoms of posttraumatic stress, the causes of job stress may vary depending on the medical specialty. Family practitioners may face rising demands for primary care services along with decreasing resources.

Also, there is a markedly higher risk of melancholy, anxiety, and suicidal ideation for clinicians who deal with complaints, which are frequently viewed as humiliating terrible personal experiences. 

Personal qualities typically guarantee that patients are well taken care of, but they can increase the risk of mental health issues for doctors. Doctors may be more likely to exhibit conscientiousness, obsessiveness, and perfectionism, which could result in rigidity, over-commitment, self-criticism, and a lack of ability to relax and refuel their inner resources. Doctors may have excessive feelings of guilt, failure, shame, and low self-esteem as a result of an exaggerated fear of making mistakes and a perception of subpar patient care. 

Depersonalization and dissociation, two psychological defenses, may make it challenging to establish or maintain personal ties or to recognize when the emotional demands of work become intolerable. As a result, there may be escalating distress and an elevated risk of depression and suicide. According to some estimates, over 50% of US doctors suffer from burnout, an illness characterized by emotional exhaustion and maladaptive detachment brought on by continuous job stress. This is especially typical of residents and registrars, and it is even more typical of people who pursue surgical specialties. According to a recent systematic analysis of 182 research, the overall prevalence of physician burnout ranged from 0-80.5%; however, these numbers are constrained by nosological dispute and highly dependent on rating systems and burnout cut-off points. Low personal accomplishment, depersonalization, and emotional weariness ranged from 0 to 86% then 0 to 90, and then 0-87 respectively.