One in four new doctors may be depressed, and their patients may suffer because of it
on 11 December 2015

This is both of some concern but also interest, especially if you have just been diagnosed with depression. Depression can be an illness in and of itself, as well as associated with other condtions, e.g. chronic stress, anxiety or even a physical illness. So, it is important to have a proper evaluation, but do most Doctors actually do this?

It is quite usual for your GP to order a series of lab test, perhaps to check for any underlying physical condition that may be presenting symptoms of depression. In addition to that, your Doctor will ask numerous questions and maybe complete a fairly detailed questionnaire, this can confirm the condition. Of course this takes time and somewhere in the order of 20 minutes or so would be quite reasonable. However, the time frame most clients of mine say they are with their Doctor, is usually around 10 to 15 minutes? So ask yourself, "did my Doctor actually spend the proper time to properly diagnose my condition?" Did you have any tests to rule out some physical aspect to your condition? Was the Doctor, perhaps, suffering from depression? You may reasonably ask, "am I actually depressed?" Now I am not suggesting your Doctor is wrong but maybe, just maybe!

Treating depression with hypnosis very often delivers a good outcome but the extent to which each client buys into the perceived seriousness of their condition, very often equates to their perception of how difficult it will be to treat! This is the primary reason why I introduce doubt into how solid the diagnoses was. If they are taking medication, I will suggest they follow their Doctors instructions, however, I do ask many questions to make sure they are not experiencing any side effects and, depending how long they have been on meds, have they experienced an improvement in their symptoms etc. SSRI's are a common drug used and these usually take time for the effects to kick in, a couple of weeks is not uncommon. After a careful consideration of the facts, a course of treatment can start. It was therefore rather interesting to read the research below because this is an angle I have never considered! Although this study primarily looks at new Doctors or Med students, my thoughts are immediately drawn to the fairly high rates of recurrence in people with depression; I guess this could include Doctors?

1 in 4 new Doctors suffer from Depression study finds!

More than one in four doctors in the early stages of their careers has signs of depression, a comprehensive new study finds. And the gruelling years of training for a medical career may deserve some of the blame. That's bad news not just for the young doctors themselves, but also for the patients they care for now and in the future. Depressed doctors are known to be more likely to make mistakes or give worse care. The startling findings come from a careful investigation of 50 years' worth of studies that looked for depression symptoms in more than 17,500 medical residents.

It's published in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association by a team led by a current resident at Harvard and a University of Michigan Medical School psychiatrist who specializes in studying physician mental health. The team aimed to find definitive answers to questions that have been studied many times and in many ways: What percentage of new doctors might be depressed, and how much does that change over time? By collecting and combining data from 54 studies done around the world, the researchers concluded that 28.8 percent of physicians-in-training have signs of depression. There was a small but significant increase in the rate of depression over the five decades covered by the study.

"The increase in depression is surprising and important, especially in light of reforms that have been implemented over the years with the intent of improving the mental health of residents and the health of patients," says Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the new study and a member of U-M's Depression Center, Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and Molecular and Behavioural Neuroscience Institute. Sen runs the Intern Health Study, a major effort to understand stress and mood issues people face in their first year of training after medical school. The study enrols 3,000 medical interns at 50 sites every year and tracks their progress from before training begins through their first year of training. Sen worked with the study's lead author -- Douglas Mata, M.D., M.P.H., of Harvard University -- and the other authors to pull together and analyze a wide range of studies. Hard years; hard numbers! They focused on the first post-medical school training years, called internship and residency. Those years are marked by long hours, intensive on-the-job learning, low rank within a medical team, and a high level of responsibility for minute-to-minute patient care. While the percentage of residents with possible depression found by any one study ranged from 20 percent up to 43 percent, the bottom line when all the data were equalised and tallied together came out to 28.8 percent.

Having a definitive number, and definitive evidence that the proportion of new doctors with depression symptoms increases over time, should help spur action to help address these issues, Sen says. While many medical schools and teaching hospitals have begun to address student and trainee mental health more completely in recent years, more needs to be done, the authors note. "Our findings provide a more accurate measure of the prevalence of depression in this group, and we hope that they will focus attention on factors that may negatively affect the mental health of young doctors, with the goal of identifying strategies to prevent and treat depression among graduate medical trainees," Mata says.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
1. Douglas A. Mata, MD, MPH et al. Prevalence of Depression and Depressive Symptoms Among Resident Physicians: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA, December 2015 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2015.15845