I am Deepti Kukreja and I am a consultant psychiatrist. Previously I have also worked at the World Health Organisation in Geneva for almost six years in Department of geriatric psychiatry. Today on the occasion of the World Health Day I would like to talk about stress anxiety and burn out among medical professionals. Now stress can generally we define as an undue inappropriate foreign exaggerated response to any situation. Whereas anxiety can be positive thing stress is almost always negative and has psychological as well as physiological changes which lead to ill health and reduce productivity. Medical service doctors nurses etc that involve taking care of other peoples lives and sometimes mistakes and errors can be costly and irreversible. We expect that people who are in the medical profession on their own would be free of mental tensions and anxieties.
However, this is usually not the case because apart from being subject to the usual stressors that affect the general population doctors are under even more stress due to the nature of their work and the expectations from the society at large. Studies from all over the world from both the developed countries as well as the lower middle-income countries such as India have shown that on the average death by suicide is almost 70% higher in male physicians as compared to any other professionals in any field and about 250 to 400 percent higher among female doctors that is huge number that major cause being stress and depression. Now the WHO actually estimates that stress-related disorders will actually be the leading cause of disability by the year 2020. There are various reasons why they are so much stress among medical professionals. One of them being pure pressure competition with their own peers. The second can be social expectations which are usually high both financial as well as otherwise. The training that we undergo both at the undergraduate, as well as postgraduate levels, is long and very tedious.
Then comes the work environment there are beaurocratic hassles there is administrative inaptitude. There is competition, there are poor infrastructure insecurities inadequate training retraining programmes fear of litigation long working hours the list just goes on. Then comes individual behaviors you know which lead to most stress such as people who take up smoking and alcohol after because of the stress. Poor sleeping you know lack of exercise, poor eating habits all of these can actually lead to significant stress among medical professionals. Now let's talk about burnout in medical professionals. Burn out is a term which is defined by a triad of symptoms one is emotional exhaustion second is depersonalization where you start treating people and other patients as objects rather than human beings. And the third is low productivity. This usually happens in doctors and medical professionals under extreme stress and it leads to impairment in health and co-productivity. We need to talk definitive steps to actually reduce the deleterious effects of stress in the medical profession.
Let's talk about this in 2 parts one is in hospitals and in clinics in our workplace is how can you reduce the stress and second at the personal level. So at the hospital or the work level, one should be controlling the workload especially at the junior doctor cadre level because if from a junior level where dealing of a lot of stress by the time they get to a senior position there is already a burnout that is happening. Also, there should be you know the hospital’s need to become more job-friendly rather than a business model thing. On a personal level, I think there are few things that we can all do to improve our quality of life and reduce the stress. One is we must take a nutritious healthy wholesome diet. A lot of time we neglect our diet and end up eating at odd hours all junk food because you know it's easy but what I think we should really focus what we are eating. We are what we eat.
Two we should exercise regularly. I think in the whole humdrum of work traveling commuting all of that exercise takes a back seat and I think it's very important because its definitely reduce this stress level. In fact, the exercises are known as stress buster by itself. It is actually significant important as an antidepressant. The third I think it is important to spend time with family, friends and loved ones not just when you have time when you finished work but actually, on a regular basis, we need to be able to spend time with our family and friends to reduce the stress levels. The fourth thing is we need to get adequate sleep a lot of times we find that sleep is the first thing that goes for a toss when it comes to stress.
The fourth things would be to get adequate sleep one of the most important factors in actually reducing stress level is getting adequate sleep. Take time out to on the fifth thing take time out to inculcate personal habits personal hobbies interests so be gardening reading you know learning a new skill anything that gives you enjoyment and pleasure. And if you can make your spouse or partner and children a part of it even better. Last but not least I think we must definitely make a conscious effort to reduce our use of technology of the laptops of our phones or the internet. Some people are so addicted to it that we can't function without it. So on this World Mental Health Day lets strive to become stress-free so that we can serve our patients better. For more information or if you would like to make an appointment please contact me via Lybrate.com