Physician Burnout during a Global Pandemic

By Eleanor Kim

Physicians and nurses around the world have been at the front lines fighting the coronavirus and saving the lives of those infected. Now more than ever, citizens are coming to realize the importance of those within the medical field and the bravery that comes with entering medicine. That being said, there has been an immense amount of pressure placed upon healthcare workers, often causing stress, anxiety, and depression. At the end of the day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are humans and can feel the effects of burnout during such a heightened and high stakes moment in medical history.

Burnout is when someone becomes overwhelmed by the demands of their daily life, becoming emotionally and physically exhausted and creating a sense of depersonalization and weakened personal accomplishments. Burnout is a common occurrence among physicians and nurses given the great amount of pressure that comes with saving lives. That being said, these feelings of burnout have skyrocketed given the additionally taxing nature of current frontline medical work such as the stress of isolating from friends and family, the extended hours of work, the tragic lack of medical supplies, and the fear of contracting or spreading the virus, to name a few. Physicians are also left to deal with the other struggles and anxieties that the past year has brought upon the general population regarding economic, political, racial, and other personal effects of the pandemic.

During these elongated periods where healthcare workers are left sleep deprived, improperly fed, and overall anxious about the current status of the pandemic, they are exposed to both mentally and physically long lasting effects. In 2020, there have been a record number of physicians who have reported feelings of burnout and other mental health concerns since the start of the pandemic. Should these issues go untreated, there is an increased risk for depression, self-medication, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. Burnout is more than just stress; it is a mental health crisis and should be treated as such.

If you or someone you know is feeling the effects of physician and healthcare worker burnout, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lipiroy/2020/05/17/doctor-heal-thyself-physician-burnout-in-the-wake-of-covid-19/

Image Source:

https://blog.frontiersin.org/2020/04/14/more-than-a-third-of-medical-staff-suffered-insomnia-during-the-covid-19-epidemic-in-china/

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