A new study is outlining that medical residents are at a high risk of acquiring depression. The study shows no significant different in the numbers of people affected when compared between several countries, including the USA.
The findings are harrowing at best because they highlight something truly troubling. Who helps the help givers? Depressed doctors cannot perform as well as their happier or more stable counterparts. Patients go to doctors for care thinking that they will get help that is free of medical errors and poor care problems. However, like any other profession there is no way that doctors can perform well if they are depressed because of their jobs.
Over a third of in-training doctors have problems with depression. The study, conducted in the United States, showed that this could lead to disastrous consequences for the patients involved.
Doulas Mata led the team working on the review. Mata is a resident d doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He was joined by Srijan Sen, a University of Michigan Medical School psychiatrist. Sen specializes in mental health.
Depression in doctors: The study consisted of a review of 54 previous works spanning 50 years. The works revolved around 17,500 medical residents, making up a considerable pool of data that could be studied. The review can be found in the Journal of American Medical Association.
Mata went on record to say that many of the doctors that were studied for the purpose of the review came short of qualifying for major characteristics that could place them in the major depressive disorder box.
Developing depression is often connected to one having a higher probability of future episodes of depression. This in turn means the likelihood of greater long-term morbidity. The probability of issues for the long-term health of young doctors is alarming, to say the least.
Sen believes that the increase in depression should not be taken lightly. It is not only significant as a problem, but also important because several reforms have been implemented in the last couple of years to improve a young resident’s mental health, and the health of the patients they treat. Clearly, something in the system is totally miss. Sen is a member of the Depression Center at the University of Michigan and highlights that medicine has changed drastically in the last two to three decades.
The study shows that depression is not a problem for just the USA. Signs of the problem were seen in young residents and interns at a global level, across various different medical fields. The common thread here is the young doctors themselves, and not the kind of work they do or where they come from. The study has only looked into the mental health of people who were doing their internship or residency.
So how does one go about fixing this vast and scary problem? For starters depressed doctors should do what depressed patients do: go see a shrink and bust some stress. The researchers believe that a proactive, and not a reactive, approach is one that will work.
It’s high time we also took a long at how the education system works when it comes to medical education. Leaving high pressure education and heading towards a high pressure job is sort of like flying out of the pan into the fire. As the researchers point out: a profound change is needed, indeed.