Stress does not end in the medical profession because of the nature of the profession, which requires dealing with many patients throughout the day and night, and between a case that is easy to treat and another that requires emergency intervention, the doctor’s mental health is affected as a result of this constant nervous pressure. In this article from the Upper Medic blog, we explain the methods The doctor deals with nervous stress in order to maintain his mental health.
How have studies addressed the phenomenon of stress among doctors?
Statistics recently showed that medical professionals are more likely to commit suicide than other people, specifically female doctors, at a rate of 2.2, and male doctors, at a rate of 1.4. Young doctors are also more vulnerable to this, with 20% of trainee doctors suffering from suicidal thoughts, and this certainly reflects their psychological state.
In a report by the British Medical Journal in 2011, it was found that ⅓ of doctors have psychological disorders, and in a survey of the British Royal College of Junior Physicians, 80% of them felt that they work under constant pressure, and ¼ of these doctors felt that this stress affects their psychological health.
In the United States of America, according to a MedSkype study of 15,000 doctors from 29 different specialties, it was found that 42% of them were psychologically exhausted, and 12% of them had depression.
Female doctors are the most vulnerable to stress and psychological burnout . 48% of them were female, while the percentage among male doctors reached 38%.
What is the effect of constant stress on the doctor?
The problems of doctors’ constant stress multiply, especially as they constantly deal with patients, and they feel extremely exhausted after spending a long day caring for patients and developing appropriate treatment plans for them.
This chronic stress, which has become a part of a doctor’s life, causes what is called “psychological burnout,” which consists of three things: first, psychological exhaustion, which leads to fatigue and an absence of passion or somewhat weakness. Secondly, weak emotions, which means describing the negative situations that the doctor experiences, which may cause him to deal with patients as inhuman things. Thirdly, there is a decline in personal achievement and a decline in the doctor’s ability to manage and plan his professional life .
This “psychological burnout” may lead to severe and chronic stress, especially for the doctor, making him vulnerable to many other disorders, such as depression. Anxiety, sleep disorders, fatigue, and disintegration of relationships with others.
Since doctors are the first line in the face of many daily health and humanitarian issues, they are more vulnerable to stress and depression than other professions.
How dangerous is stress for practicing medicine?
Constant stress is clearly reflected in the doctor’s practice of his profession, especially since the long and hard working hours, excessive work, or the scientific requirements that the doctor requires in his profession ultimately lead to constant stress.
Unfortunately, in the medical sector there is a stigma and shame about consulting a psychiatrist to help a doctor who is suffering from stress or depression, which causes this doctor to avoid getting the advice he needs. In order to perform his profession in the best way. This undoubtedly exacerbates the psychological crises that the doctor experiences, which affects his general behavior with patients, and makes him vulnerable to emotional or psychological collapse in the long term, mishandling patients, or even a lack of focus on the correct diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
How does a doctor deal with stress in the work environment?
For the sake of all of the above, and to preserve the doctor’s mental health, and to ensure his ability to accomplish his mission with the patient, it is preferable for the doctor to deal with stress according to the following advice:
1. Identify signs of stress
Stress and psychological exhaustion have signs that the doctor should know about. So that he can deal with it as soon as it appears without causing him more problems, and the most important of these signs are the following: pessimism, lack of the required competence in dealing with patients, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
By observing signs of stress, the doctor can begin to deal with it in the right ways, such as by tracking down the causes of stress, or trying to take time off from work, or talking to a friend, for example. Studies have shown that resilience and confronting challenges forcefully is one of the best ways to prevent stress. Resilience does not mean constant consistency, but rather recovering quickly and returning to active work after a period of stress or psychological crisis.
2. Identify the causes of stress
Some things may be the cause of stress within the workplace; Therefore, you should prioritize the things that stress you, doctor.
One of the things that causes stress, for example, is that the general practitioner spends at least 6 hours every week as a supervisor alone, and when a day passes with a long shift of dealing with patients, for example, the doctor must come the next day according to administrative working hours, and this may be tiring and exhausting for mental health. Absolutely.
Some workplace problems may also lead to extreme stress for doctors, as well as some practices in the work environment, such as:
- Lack of cooperation and communication between colleagues in practice.
- Systems that are ineffective in managing the flow of practices within the hospital, or are outdated.
- Practice management software is nonexistent or outdated.
- The patient’s non-attendance or absence from the appointment set by the doctor.
- Difficulty adhering to a busy schedule in the workplace.
Knowing what causes stress, the doctor must either reduce exposure to it, avoid it, or change his workplace if possible. It may be difficult to avoid stressors in a hospital or clinic, but some stressors can certainly be avoided outside of these settings. For example, you can avoid driving during peak times and heavy traffic if that makes you stressful.
3. Rest the mind
The pressure of daily work is continuous and does not stop, and if the doctor does not catch his breath and relax his mind for a period of time, the stress may eat up his time and make his life difficult. So to recharge, improve your psychological state, and overcome a fair amount of stress, you can take time off from work from time to time for nothing other than to clear your mind a little, get a proper rest, and why not also spend some time with your family?
Taking vacations at regular intervals is extremely important for the doctor’s mental health and family life, especially if he is exposed to constant pressure in the work environment. Rather, weekend vacations are important only to relieve stress on the doctor and make him able to resume his work with full activity with patients from the first day of the week. .
4. Talk to your friends
Talking to a friend or confiding in a loved one removes a lot of stress from the doctor’s shoulders. By listening to others and gaining their sympathy, you remove the psychological burden from your shoulders, and it is okay for this to happen on a regular basis as well.
In one hospital, the medical staff of the emergency department agreed to meet after dealing with severely injured patients, for nothing more than just talking, getting rid of tension, and finding out what each individual feels. This increases the bond between the medical staff members, and keeps the tension away from them, even if just a little.
The doctor may also go through some situations that exhaust him psychologically in the workplace, and perhaps by consulting a friend or companion , he may propose an appropriate solution to overcome this problem and overcome the stress that work has caused him, especially if the friend has gone through a similar experience before.
5. Take care of yourself as you care for your patient
This is the easiest way to deal with stress , which is to take care of your mental health just as you take care of your patient’s health. Do not neglect doing what you can to improve your mental and physical health alike, such as:
- Sleep a sufficient number of hours.
- Eat healthy food.
- Do some exercises that help relieve stress.
Also, the way to relieve stress in the work environment or tension may be by doing something you love, or a hobby you enjoy, as these things reduce tension a lot.