Which factors contribute to physician resistance to seeking treatment for depression?

Updated: Jun 11, 2017
  • Author: Louise B Andrew, MD, JD; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Answer

Many clinicians are uncomfortable treating fellow physicians, especially in the realm of mental health. [36] The “VIP syndrome,” characterized by well-intentioned, but superficial or inadequate, treatment based on collegiality and concerns about confidentiality, can detract from the effectiveness of therapy.

Mental health experts who have studied physician depression and suicide stress that immediate treatment and confidential hospitalization of suicidal physicians can be lifesaving—more so than in other populations. [37] Yet, the specters raised by this approach—the fear of temporary withdrawal from practice, of lack of confidentiality and privacy in treatment, or of loss of respect in the community—are often major impediments that hinder physicians from reaching out in a time of crisis and seeking effective treatment. [33, 38, 39]

Physicians who have reported depressive symptoms (even those for which they are receiving effective treatment) to their licensing boards, potential employers, hospitals, and other credentialing agencies have experienced a range of negative consequences, including loss of their medical privacy and autonomy, repetitive and intrusive examinations, licensure restrictions, discriminatory employment decisions, practice restrictions, hospital privilege limitations, and increased supervision. [40, 41, 42, 38, 39, 43, 25]

Such discrimination can immediately and severely limit physicians’ livelihoods as well as the financial stability of their families. For this reason, well-meaning colleagues or family members who are aware of the depression sometimes discourage physicians from seeking help.


Source Article: Physician Suicide: Problems With Treating Physician Depression

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