Physicians often hide struggles with mental health

While they may be good at helping their patients, physicians may neglect or fail to notice the signs of their own mental health issues, such as burnout, depression and substance abuse, according to a report in Dermatology Times.

Or they may recognize the problems, but fear letting anyone know and not seek treatment, the report said. "There's a huge stigma and culture of silence in medicine around any kind of mental illness or showing emotion," Charles Samenow, M.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University, told the publication.

American doctors aren't the only ones who fail to seek treatment for mental health symptoms. A recent study found that almost half of doctors in England have experienced symptoms of mental illness but continued to work while hiding their concerns.

Doctors who ignore their problems can get deeper into trouble and could even put patients at risk, says Samenow. Actions physicians can take to help themselves include:

  • Cut back on work and find time to exercise
  • Visit a mental health professional
  • Seek a rehabilitation program if the problem is severe 
  • Learn about programs to support physician wellness often offered by employers, universities or medical societies

Leading organizations, such as Stanford University and the Mayo Clinic, have recognized the problem of physician burnout and started programs to help physicians protect their own mental health.

To learn more:
- read the article

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