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The Untold Truth: Why Physicians Struggle With Mental Health

March 7, 2023

6 min read

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Author : United We Care
Clinically approved by : Dr.Vasudha
The Untold Truth: Why Physicians Struggle With Mental Health


People often equate physicians with superheroes; they cure the sick, save lives, and are the last line of defence in many medical emergencies. But what is often overlooked is the effect of their career choices on their mental health. It’s no secret that physicians struggle with long hours, grueling shifts, conflicts with patient parties, and difficult decisions that can take an emotional toll. This blog post explores why physicians are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues and how they can find help when needed. From burnout to depression and anxiety, uncover the untold truth about why physician mental health should be a priority for everyone.

Why do Physicians Struggle With Mental Health?

Mental health is often considered taboo, especially in the medical field. Physicians must be strong and stoic according to their patients, but this isn’t always true. There are several reasons why physicians may struggle with mental health.

-One reason is the high-stress levels that come with the job. Physicians constantly deal with life-and-death situations, make difficult decisions, and work long hours, and this can all take a toll on their mental well-being.

-Another reason physicians may struggle with mental health is that they often feel isolated from their peers. Due to the demands of their job, they may not have much time for socializing or hobbies outside of work, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

-Unfavourable medical/health outcomes for their patients can also put a toll on a physician’s mental health as they can result in conflicts with patient parties. Studies show that team-family conflicts make up 29% of interactions with patients’ families.[1]

-Finally, many physicians also struggle with burnout. Burnout is common in any high-stress job but can be particularly severe in the medical field.

The Untold Truth of Physicians

For physicians, long days filled with life-and-death decisions are the norm. It’s no wonder that physicians are at a higher risk for mental health problems like depression and anxiety. But it’s not just the long hours that take a toll. There are also other things like:

– The immense pressure to be perfect. Physicians are expected to have all the answers, even when they don’t.

-They’re expected to be compassionate but not get too emotionally attached to their patients. And they’re expected to make life-or-death decisions daily.It’s no wonder that mental health problems are so common among physicians. One study by The Indian Journal of Psychiatry concluded that 30% of Indian doctors and physicians go through depression.[2] One of the most exciting findings of this study was that almost 80% of doctors feel burnout regularly.

The Importance of Sound Mental Health of Physicians

Physicians are vital in keeping us healthy and extending our life spans. Mental health problems among physicians are especially a concern because:

  • They can impact the quality of care that patients receive. When physicians struggle with their mental health, they may be more likely to make errors, miss important diagnoses, and provide lower-quality care.

  • The sound mental health of physicians is essential because, due to the nature of their work, they are prone to external criticism and low self-esteem. Without proper support, the physicians’ mental health can spiral, eventually affecting their physical health.

  • Experts recommend spiritual practices, meditation, yoga, and accessing e-mental health services for physicians to keep their mental health condition sound.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health of physicians

The medical community stigmatizes mental health problems. Admitting a mental health problem can be difficult for most physicians, and the stigma can make physicians feel like they must struggle in silence [3].Physicians have one of the highest rates of suicide in any profession.[4] The high rate of suicide is likely due to the stress that comes with the job. Physicians are constantly making life-and-death decisions and dealing with complex patients and families.The stigma surrounding mental health can make it difficult for physicians to seek help when needed, and they may worry that seeking treatment will damage their careers or make them appear weak. As a result, many physicians struggle with mental health problems for years before getting help.

The Impact of mental health problems on Physicians

Mental health problems are taboo, particularly among physicians and other medical professionals. Patients expect physicians to put them first. However, the reality is that physicians are human beings too, and they can be just as susceptible to mental health problems as anyone else.The job demands can be highly stressful, and long hours can lead to burnout. Physicians may feel like they must put on a brave face and push through even when feeling overwhelmed, which can lead to serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.Untreated mental health problems can seriously impact a physician’s ability to do their job, and they may struggle to concentrate or make decisions, and their physical health can also suffer. In severe cases, untreated mental health problems can lead to endogenous and exogenous depression among physicians.

How to Overcome Mental Health Problems Affecting Physicians?

Several mental problems can affect physicians. One of the most common mental health problems affecting physicians is burnout.[5] Even when physicians take a break from their mundane life, they are expected to cope with the high-stress and fast-paced life they left suddenly.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome burnout and other mental problems affecting physicians. Here are some tips:

how to overcome mental health problems affecting physicians

1. Make time for yourself. It’s important to schedule time for activities you enjoy outside of work, which can help you reduce stress and maintain a healthy balance in your life.

2. Find a supportive network. Connect with friends, family, or colleagues who understand the challenges of being a physician. Talking to someone who understands what you’re going through can be very helpful.

3. Take care of your physical health. Physical health and mental health are interconnected, so it’s essential to take care of your body as well as your mind

If you’re struggling with mental health, don’t fear to seek professional help from a therapist or counsellor. United We Care is a platform dedicated to providing mental health support. Our experts are well-trained to guide physicians and others engaged in a high-stress profession.


[1] “How doctors manage conflicts with families of critically ill patients ..” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00134-022-06771-5 (accessed: Mar. 02, 2023).

[2] “Doctors’ Day: Turning Spotlight on Mental Health—1 in 3 Health Workers Report Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety, PTSD.” https://weather.com/en-IN/india/coronavirus/news/2021-06-30-over-30-public-health-workers-report-symptoms-of-depression (accessed: Mar. 02, 2023).

[3] “5 reasons physicians are less likely to seek support | American ..” https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-health/5-reasons-physicians-are-less-likely-seek-support (accessed: Mar. 02, 2023).

“Suicide among physicians and health-care workers: A systematic.”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6907772/ (accessed: Mar. 02, 2023).

“Medscape UK Doctors.” https://www.medscape.com/slideshow/uk-doctors-burnout-2020-6013312 (accessed: Mar. 02, 2023).


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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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