How Prevalent Are Psychological Issues Among Doctors And Nurses — And How Dangerous Are These For Patients?


Today’s doctors, nurses, and other health care workers face a variety of stressors. Issues such as understaffing and overwork can exacerbate existing mental health concerns or even prompt the development of such problems where they might otherwise not exist.

The following are among the most prevalent psychological issues in the health care industry:


Depression is rampant throughout the medical profession. A meta-analysis from JAMA reveals that over one-quarter of doctors experience depressive symptoms — rates three times as high as those among the general population. What’s more, one in ten medical students have contemplated suicide.

Nurses are also prone to this problem, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative suggesting that nearly one in five nurses suffer symptoms of depression.


Doctors and nurses are just as likely to suffer anxiety as they are depression. This goes beyond the everyday worries and stressors present in their work to reach a debilitating level of anxiety that makes it impossible to achieve a needed standard of care. Findings from a Royal College of Nursing study suggest that one-third of nurses experience severe anxiety or stress.

Drug Abuse

Whether or not they’re diagnosed with the aforementioned mental health disorders, health care workers are increasingly prone to drug abuse. Many use alcohol or illicit substances as a form of self-medication. This is evidenced in data presented by the American Nurses Association, which suggests that one in ten RNs abuse drugs or alcohol. Shockingly, many nurses and doctors have been reprimanded or fired for working while under the influence.

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