September 25, 2023

Mental Illness Among Healthcare Professionals

  • October 15, 2013
  • 3 min read
Mental Illness Among Healthcare Professionals

The healthcare field can be stressful, to say the least. From school and training to actual careers, healthcare students and professionals often suffer from anxiety, depression and other psychological ailments. Plus, there seems to be a stigma surrounding mental illness in healthcare professionals; it seems as though doctors, nurses and specialists are expected to treat mental illness, but never experience psychological complications themselves. The following is an in-depth look at mental illness in healthcare professionals, which includes information on symptoms and treatment options. 


Depression among healthcare workers is extremely common. These individuals are exposed to illness, trauma and death on a near daily basis. Unsurprisingly, this exposure, in addition to dealing with family members of the ill, injured or deceased, can be overwhelming. As a result, these professionals often suffer the symptoms of depression. These symptoms include mood swings, erratic behaviors, persistent sadness and social withdrawal, as well as physical ailments like chronic headaches or joint pain. 

Despite the stigma attached to depression among healthcare workers, seeking treatment is crucial to health. In many cases, talk therapy and certain lifestyle changes are sufficient in treating the symptoms of depression; in others, prescription antidepressants may be necessary. Either way, seeking treatment can prevent a worsening of symptoms, as well as harmful complications like suicidal thoughts or behaviors. 

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Like depression, anxiety is extremely common among healthcare professionals and students. Long hours, concern for patients, mountains of paperwork and emergency situations can lead to an undeniably large amount of stress and frustration. Symptoms of anxiety include chronic worry, feelings of powerlessness, nervousness and physical symptoms like shaking, trembling, loss of appetite and more. Plus, anxiety can significantly affect the personal relationships of healthcare workers, as well as job performance and patient interaction. 

Treatment for anxiety often involves a number of methods. Anti-anxiety drugs are often helpful, as are talk therapy and relaxation techniques. For example, meditation, deep breathing and other simple techniques can relieve acute anxiety. 

It’s important to note that, while long shifts may be required of medical personnel, overtime violations often occur. And when it comes to anxiety, overtime infractions on the part of an employer can only add to stress and frustration. For more information on overtime violations, visit


Surprisingly enough, healthcare workers often suffer from addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. In most cases, the drugs of choice among medical personnel include prescription painkillers and barbiturates, which are often prescribed as the result of a valid illness. And although the symptoms and causes of addiction can vary, most addicts exhibit signs like the following:

  • – Overwhelming cravings for addictive substances. 
  • – Persistent thoughts of drugs and worries concerning supply. 
  • – Using unethical or illegal methods to obtain prescription drugs, e.g., theft, forgery, etc. 
  • – The onset of withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. 
  • – Physical symptoms of euphoria, which include slurred speech, drowsiness, confusion, etc. 

Once the symptoms of addiction are apparent, seeking immediate treatment is critical to both the addicted individual’s career and well-being. Typically, addiction is treated with a combination of psychological methods, which usually include behavioral therapy, group counseling and more. 

Although healthcare workers often suffer from some form of mental illness, help is available. With the proper treatment, even severe psychological conditions can be addressed, safely and effectively. 

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  • I completely agree that stress levels are high among health professionals and this starts at the undergraduate level with the rat race called post graduation making things even more difficult..I see at least 5 doctors and medical students a month in my psychiatry practice and I thing fault lies with our medical education system..Our work revolves around human interaction and yet we do not have any training in human psychology or stress management making things very difficult..Even doctors feel stigmatised visiting a psychiatrist who also trained as a medic which is surprising and appalling…I think medical students should become more psychologically minded to help themselves and others

    • Dr Milan,
      I agree with you. But here, lot of people are now taking psychological consultation for depression, anxiety, stress management.
      Things are changing here in south east asia.
      It is a positive step.
      But what we need is a abolition of over-loaded working schedules.

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