Struggling in Silence: Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide

strug_lg_wOn April 30, 2009 from 12-1 PM, Dr. Christine Y. Moutier, M.D., and Dr. Sidney Zisook, M.D., from the UCSD School of Medicine, will talk about “Struggling in Silence: Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide,” as part of the UCSD Biomedical Library lunchtime seminar series.

Physicians and medical students often do not attend to their own health, failing to recognize depression in themselves or in their colleagues. Even if they do recognize depression, which affects between one quarter and one third of medical students, they fail to seek mental health services. One of the most tragic, yet largely unheralded results of this failure is suicide. Suicide remains a disproportionately high cause of death among physicians, especially among women physicians. Although depression is eminently treatable, it continues to kill medical students and physicians, leaving a wake of devastation among family members and patients. Research has shown that barriers for medical students seeking help include time, money, stigma (both internal and external) and fears of sanction by the profession.

As part of a multi-year campaign to address the unmet needs of depressed physicians and medical students, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has created an award winning documentary film, “Struggling in Silence: Physician Depression and Suicide” (a 15- minute version will be shown during this presentation). It features interviews with families and friends that have been touched by a physician’s suicide, and practicing physicians with depression. This presentation addresses the incidence, causes, risk factors, role of stressful life events and barriers to care. Following this brief presentation, the video will be shown. Ample time for interactive discussion and an introduction to an innovative, web-based screening and referral program soon to be launched at UCSD Medical School will be provided.

Dr. Moutier is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs in the School of Medicine. Originally a classical pianist, Dr. Moutier studied piano performance at Vassar College prior to receiving her medical degree from the UCSD School of Medicine. Her area of interest is in Medical Student and Physician Wellness and Suicide Prevention. Dr. Zisook is the director of the University of California, San Diego Residency Training Program, and a Professor of Psychiatry at UCSD. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Berkeley and his medical degree from Stritch-Loyola, Chicago. He completed his residency in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and was a clinical fellow of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Zisook’s research interests focus on mood and anxiety disorders, and the treatment of depression associated with grief and bereavement.

Space is limited so RSVP as soon as possible to Vicky Anderson at in order to reserve a seat. Feel free to bring a discreet lunch; cookies and water will be provided.

Categories: Events, Speaker Series Comments: 1

One comment for “Struggling in Silence: Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide”

On July 27, 2010, 4:09 PM Tom Von Deck, A Workplace Burnout Researcher said:

Burnout’s a big issue among people in the helping professions. We keep being taught on a subtle level that we must unconditionally help others without taking care of ourselves.

All the things that help to prevent burnout, such as meditation, time management, good sleep patterns, etc, also contribute to the ability to care for others without burnout.

It’s very important that physicians and physicians-in-training slip stress management activities such as prayer, stretching, mindful breathing, etc into the day. Even a minute or two out of each hour can go a long way toward preventing burnout.

Needless to say I missed the event. However, ongoing discussions are definitely needed. Burnout’s no joke.

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