Common Mental Health Issues That Affect Doctors

Updated on February 20, 2024
Common Mental Health Issues That Affect Doctors

People turn to doctors and other medical professionals for help when they’re hurt or sick, but who do doctors turn to? When it comes to mental health, many doctors ignore their own needs and don’t seek the treatments they deserve. Factors like busy schedules, mental health stigma, and fear of medical records negatively influencing their careers keep doctors from taking their own mental health issues seriously.

But that doesn’t change the fact that there are many disorders, like depression, anxiety, and more, that stem from the high stress and immense pressure medical professionals face. Learn more about some of the most common mental health issues that affect doctors and how they can impact your well-being and your career.


There are many factors that lead to higher rates of depression among doctors and other medical professionals. Poor work-life balance, long working hours, and immense responsibility can lead to burnout. Compassion fatigue and secondhand trauma from experiencing violence and death can exacerbate feelings of fear, guilt, and hopelessness. Moreover, many medical professionals don’t feel they have time to even think about their worsening mental health, which means they don’t address these issues until depression has taken over their entire lives.

Depression has a severe impact on mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It can lead to difficulty sleeping, memory issues, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, and other issues that harm your health as well as your ability to treat patients.


Dedicating your professional life to taking care of others is a noble and worthwhile pursuit. It’s also incredibly demanding and leads to an overwhelming amount of pressure and responsibility. This is what makes anxiety one of the most common mental health issues among doctors.

Furthermore, many medical professionals display personality traits that increase their susceptibility to anxiety. Traits that help them find success in their careers—like perfectionism, self-criticism, and a drive to succeed—also exacerbate anxiety and its symptoms. It’s challenging to master everything you do, but in the medical field, when failure can have drastic, life-changing consequences, the need for perfection drives many professionals to experience intense stress and anxiety.


There are several common causes of post-traumatic stress disorder among professionals in many different careers. For doctors, PTSD often stems from exposure to violence in death. Working with trauma victims and experiencing the pain and suffering of your patients and their loved ones takes a toll on your mental health. Many doctors ignore the signs of PTSD out of a sense of duty or a pressure to be strong and unflappable for their patients and colleagues. Without professional treatment, though, PTSD can lead to other physical and mental health issues and prevent you from being fully present and successful at work.

Understanding the severity of mental health issues and how they can affect your medical career is a key part of overcoming mental health stigma and pursuing treatment. By taking care of yourself, you can take better care of your patients and lead a healthier, more rewarding, and more successful medical career.