The best doctors are known for prioritizing the needs of their patients. Even though being selfless can be a good quality for doctors to have when providing care, these medical professionals should still take the time to care for themselves properly.
Neglecting personal needs can affect mental health and negatively impact medical professionals in other ways that make it more difficult for them to do their jobs. Physicians who fail to recognize the importance of proper self-care may be more susceptible to these problems.
Working in high-pressure situations on a continual basis can lead to chronic anxiety. This mental health condition may lead to excessive nervousness and possibly even full-on panic attacks. Anxiety can also raise blood pressure and stress hormones in the body, which can have additional health consequences. Therapies like yoga and meditation can often calm feelings of anxiety and are great to practice on a regular basis. Physicians may also benefit from taking supplements like magnesium and kava. In more extreme cases of anxiety, medication prescribed by a mental health professional may be essential.
Doctors often have to treat patients who have sad stories to share. Quite often, these patients are forced to deal with debilitating conditions that can make the people around them feel depressed, and this includes their doctors. Medical professionals may feel especially depressed when a beloved patient dies. If depression is a regular part of a physicianâ€™s work and home life, there are some effective ways to try to overcome this problem. Attending counseling sessions and support groups with people in similar situations can help doctors cope with their depression better. Doctors can also receive support through the NCPHP and NC Physicians Health Program website and similar organizations.
Working erratic hours and facing mental health challenges are known to affect sleep patterns among medical professionals. A good night of rest can be hard to come by when working as a doctor, and this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation. Not getting enough sleep makes the brain function less efficiently, which is sometimes consequential for patients. Although it might be difficult to get the full recommended eight hours of sleep regularly, doctors should aim to get as much quality sleep as possible with limited disruptions.
If mental health concerns aren’t addressed properly, some physicians might feel inclined to abuse harmful substances to cope. Even doctors can succumb to drug and alcohol addiction, and getting treatment in the early stages can help medical professionals stay sober. Some medical professionals have even been known to abuse prescription drugs like oxycodone and Vicodin. Attending an in-patient or outpatient addiction recovery program can help doctors come to terms with why they started using and ways to prevent further episodes of substance abuse.
Self-care should be a regular part of every doctor’s life. Counseling, psychiatry and other types of mental health services are available to physicians who want to continue providing the highest level of care for their patients and themselves.