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The dire consequences of mistaking depression for burnout

The response to physician burnout often overlooks a potentially life-threatening condition, major depressive disorder (MDD), researchers in the US found.

Research indicates that nearly half of physicians nationwide are experiencing burnout symptoms, and a study published last year found that burnout increases the odds of physician involvement in patient safety incidents, unprofessionalism and lower patient satisfaction. In fact, researchers estimate that a physician commits suicide every day.

In an article published this month in JAMA Psychiatry, a trio of physicians led by Maria Oquendo of the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, wrote that the widespread focus on burnout could lead to missed diagnoses of serious mental illnesses among clinicians.

Symptoms of burnout such as exhaustion overlap with symptoms of MDD, and signs of MDD in clinicians should prompt a thorough psychiatric evaluation.

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Source: MEDPAGE Today, 28 July 2019


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