An alarming one in four new physicians is depressed — a rate that’s four times worse than the general public, according to a new Harvard Medical School study.
Data from the survey of more than 17,500 medical residents show that 29% of doctors had depression or symptoms of it. By comparison, 6.7% of American adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2013, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
"These findings could be easily construed as describing a depression endemic among residents and fellows," University of Nevada medical school Thomas Schwenk wrote in an accompanying editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "The personal and professional dysfunction ... should be disturbing to the profession.”
Doctors now have “little opportunity for thinking and learning,” wrote Schwenk, who also blamed “direct-to-consumer advertising that causes patients to demand medications for conditions they sometimes do not even have, and online ratings of physician performance.”
Beyond causing personal anguish among doctors, depression also increases the likelihood of human error.