One of the more serious side effects of commonly prescribed drugs is depression. According to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (June 12, 2018), 37 percent of U.S. adults are taking prescription medications that can potentially cause depression or increase the risk of suicide. Although there's been a 25 percent increase in suicides in the U.S. since 1999, the risk of depression as a side effect of prescribed drugs is widely under-appreciated by doctors and patients alike.
The high incidence of depression among physicians can no longer be ignored. Several recent reports show that every segment of the profession is at risk, from medical students and residents in training to mid-career physicians and those nearing retirement.
One study found that approximately 25% of medical students and residents suffer from clinically significant symptoms of depression (stat news.com). Another shows that both men and women are highly susceptible to depression during their internship year, but that women are at significantly higher risk than men (healthday.com). The three biggest challenges they face are (1) work-life balance, (2) dealing with time pressures, and (3) fear of failure or making a serious mistake (2016 Medscape survey).
“First, do no harm.” It’s one of the most well-known oaths physicians take when they graduate from medical school. Unfortunately, physicians are often exempt from this statement when considering their own health. Not by their own choosing, but as a result of the culture of medicine in which they’re immersed.