6 Important Tips on How Doctors Must Take Care of Their Mental Health

Medically reviewed by

Information for Doctors

5 min read

Key Takeaways

A study conducted on medical practitioners and faculty in India reported 30.1% out of 1607 participants suffering from depression. Of which, 67.2% had moderate levels of stress whereas 13% had high levels of stress. Some level of burnout was experienced by more than 90% of the participants. Stress, depression, and burnout were more common in resident doctors. This was a result of long working hours, negative patient-related outcomes, unfavorable doctor-patient interactions, and negative interpersonal experience with colleagues. [1]

As the pandemic continues, doctors are working tirelessly to cope with the demand. They are also isolated from families during this time and also feel bereaved and anxious about their patients’ health. This has led to increased mental health problems in doctors including symptoms of depression, insomnia, and anxiety. [2] While most doctors do not subscribe to the stigma that mental illness will jeopardize their license to practice, it is important for all in the medical fraternity to address mental health issues and give them the attention they deserve.

Here’s how doctors can overcome work-related stress, fatigue, and burnout to improve their mental health and increase their productivity.  

Caring for one’s own health 

Studies report that doctors are at the same risk of acute or chronic conditions as their patients. As doctors are frontline service workers, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Many studies have proved that doctors neglect their own health and tend to avoid seeking health services for themselves. [3] As practicing medicine is a stressful job, doctors need to make time for breaks. Eating on time, doing indoor or seated exercises, going for relaxation therapies, and getting needed healthcare for themselves are all various means of self-care that can help doctors achieve better mental health.

Acknowledging the importance of sound mental health 

Doctors advocate the importance of mental health to their patients, but often fall short of coping with their own stress and anxiety. Although doctors do the noble work of treating those who need their expertise, it is also important for them to acknowledge their own needs. Sometimes a doctor may be apprehensive about seeking mental health support for the fear of being judged or impeding their career [4]. However, it is important to make health, be it physical, emotional, or mental, a priority.  

Keeping in touch with close friends and family 

Talking to loved ones helps de-stress and brings about a feeling of understanding and acceptance to doctors who often carry an incomparable emotional burden. Doctors should strive to focus on their relationships with friends and family and talk openly with them about their stressors. Considering the present pandemic where doctors are working long hours and may not be able to meet their families, taking time to connect over social media can help. Doing so will assist in overcoming work-related stress. 

Doctors Must Take Care of their mental health

Developing stress management skills 

What really matters is choosing a way to manage stress and keeping at it. Practicing mindfulness, meditation and journaling can help doctors improve their mental health. Organizing the workspace and tasks at the place of practice also helps in reducing stress. No matter how busy doctors are, taking a 10-minute walk outside, be it a garden or a terrace, also help in relaxation and regaining energy. Developing behavioral and cognitive strategies to tackle stress and anxiety can also be a big help.  

Taking a break from news and social media 

Rumors and negativity are becoming more and more common on social and news media these days. This can have a detrimental effect on doctors’ mental health. Staying away from these can help doctors maintain a neutral perspective, avoid clouding their judgement, and improve productivity. Doctors can instead choose certain publishers who offer information related to their field to keep abreast with innovations.

Getting screened at regular intervals and attending workshops 

Studies have found that doctors often do not seek help for their mental health problems. There are certain reasons for this, and two of important ones include fear of confidentiality breach and fear of being judged by their practitioner. [4] Some doctors even fear that their livelihood will be jeopardized. However, it is important to realize that it is only when their mental health is sound that they can care for patients. To keep mental health under check, doctors can make it a practice to undergo regular screenings. They can also attend workshops and training sessions that will help them manage their work-related stress and other mental health issues.

Doctors need to take care of their mental health in order to take better care of their patients' health. Following the steps above can help them overcome the stressors that are common to the profession and still put their best step forward for both their patients and their families.

Published on 22 Mar 2022Last updated on 4 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.


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