The Health of Doctors

Here is a nice piece that came out in The Atlantic.   It shows a mixed report card when grading the health of doctors:

The good news first: doctors are good at avoiding risky behavior. Compared to everyone else, they almost never smoke, they rarely drink, and they lack many of the obesity-related chronic illnesses that are threatening to overwhelm the country’s health-care system. That data comes from the Physicians’ Health Study II (PHS-II), a 10-year clinical trial involving over 14,000 middle-aged male doctors that concluded in 2006.

The bad news, though, is that those same doctors suffer from problems that are harder to detect at a glance. They often have high blood pressure and cholesterol. Many suffer from depression — and attempt suicide — at greater rates than the rest of the country. It’s hard to say whether the job has much to do with it, although studies also show that students in medical school also report feelings of depression in remarkable proportions.

Depression/suicide is definitely a scary risk in our profession.  I have written before about how some doctors who I knew killed themselves.   The amazing part is that there really isn’t any support system for us.  If you admit depression or suicidal thoughts then you are labeled compromised or impaired.   Sorry, that is the sad truth.  There needs to be more of an anonymous way for us to heal but it doesn’t exist.  Since we take care of patients, no one will let you practice if they even smell a hint of risk.