Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Neglecting My Blog

I've been neglecting my blog a bit lately. This is due to a combination of reasons:
1) Neuroanatomy. We are having a quiz next week in which I have to look at pins in small slices of brain and identify the nucleus/tract/thingie that they point to. I have only been able to get through one chapter of the text so far and I can't retain the information I've tried to put in my brain. The worst thing by far is that all of the brain looks the same to me, and the names are SO complicated. Why can't they call the nuclei and stuff something that makes sense?!? Argh.
2) Clubs. I'm the director of one club (family medicine interest group) and an exec member of another (med students 4 choice) and they suck time. I had two meetings today and I haven't been home for 13 hours. I studied for a few hours today and I am totally pooped.
3) Nobody commented on my last entry. I'm not petty, but nobody likes thinking that nobody loves them. I will, however, suck it up now.

We had an interesting lecture the other day on depression in physicians. This tied into what I've been reading lately in barbados butterfly's blog about the hardships of surgical training and the recent tragic deaths of two surgical registrars in Australia. Did you know that male physicians are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than their gender matched counterparts in the general public? And female physicians? 5 times more likely to commit suicide. These are American statistics. The times of greatest depression for medical students are 1) at the end of second year right before clerkship 2) the beginning of residency (after the honeymoon period).

The worst thing is that what makes us good physicians or good at getting into medical school is often what makes us prone to being depressed and not getting help. We are private people who are good about keeping our emotions to ourselves, we strive for perfection so we are embarrassed to admit that we can't handle a problem, and we feel guilty about taking time off from work so we don't take the time to go get help. We are dedicated to our patients so we tend to put ourselves last. We can keep up appearances when things below the surface are falling apart - our colleagues and friends are often the last to know that we are having trouble so they are unable to suggest that we get help in a timely manner. All of these things contribute to us being prone to letting depression get so far that we decide to end our lives.

The good news is that this problem is being addressed. Not only through educational lectures and physician wellness sessions in med school but through making help very accessible and confidential. If you think you might be depressed and need help and you are in Ontario, you can call the OMA physician help-line at 1-800-851-6606 . If you're in another province find out if you have a physician help line, or find a counseling service. Remember that if you're dead or ill, you can't help your patients so taking some time now to take care of yourself is worth it.


Nathan said...

It's scary. Physicians are also vastly more likely to be divorced and to have unhappy intact marriages. We abuse drugs at a much higher rate than similarly educated peers and report more depression as well.

Remind me again why we've picked this profession?

dr. whoo? said...

I really detested neuroanatomy, neurophys, and cellular biophysics! Ob/Gyn is so much more macro, hands on, and easy to understand. Good luck on your test!

I know that I was depressed in residency. The stress level was way too high. It is so important to recognize the symptoms in yourself. I've been neglecting my blog, too, due to vacation. Gotta fight off those doctoring blues!

dr peg said...

Very well stated description of why docs get depressed. During my training, one student and then one resident committed suicide. I guess that's a relatively low rate, but it was still a shock to me.

Anonymous said...

We comment, therefore you are.

I attended a university with a prestigious reputation (for both undergraduate and graduate studies) in which students were treated with a great deal of _intellectual_ respect by their high profile profs and high achieving classmates. Along with all the benefits came immense pressure, and it wasn't hard to scratch the surface of most people who appeared to be functioning well and find some major unhappiness and self-doubt. Suicides were not happening every day, but a couple/few a year seemed to be the norm. Your post sends me back to those can't be said enough: talk to someone when you're burning out and think there're no other options! If you're not accustomed to being wrong about things, consider that this time you are!
Doc F

Fat Doctor said...

Neuroanatomy. Ugh. Still don't remember one fact from that course. But isn't it interesting that you are blogging about suicide and brains at the same time? And brains have a lot to do with suicide. So maybe it's good that you will know what those tracts are...

Borneo Breezes said...

Good post about a touchy subject. You weave things together well. A real problem of doctors is being removed physically and emotionally. You seem to have put thought into being real.

Intelinurse2B said...

During some down time in L/D this week I chatted with a 3rd year medical student transplanted from his home in Washington-all the way across the states to MI. He was also remarking about some of the same statistics and said he has to make concerted efforts to fight off the blues.
Hopefully for you, blogging will help.
Great Post!

medstudentitis said...

Wow, now I feel popular :) It's lovely to come home from a weekend and have so many nice comments! Thanks everyone. Maybe i'll work on another post.