Ummid Assistant

IDB scholarship forms available at Bhopal's Companion School

IGNOU's preparatory course for students desiring higher education

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home Health

Emotional toll make patients out of doctors

Friday July 20, 2012 10:18:46 PMAzera Rahman, IANS

New Delhi: The white coat, those knowing eyes, that reassuring voice when in pain, a mere glimpse of a doctor puts us at ease. Little does one realise that their back-breaking schedule, odd working hours and "emotional labour" during patient care sometimes takes a toll on doctors' health, pushing them to seek help themselves.

This is probably why sometimes doctors, despite knowing it all, take to smoking and even get addicted to it and alcohol, which in turn leads to other health complications, experts say.

Sameer Malhotra, head of the psychiatry department at Max hospital, said that many a time he has had people from the medical fraternity sitting on his patient's chair, seeking help to deal with their problems, which are often stress-related.

"I do have doctors coming to see me, seeking help to deal with problems like anxiety, psychosomatic problems and de-addiction (from nicotine or alcohol)," Malhotra told IANS.

Samir Parikh, director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, similarly said that doctors often come to him looking for advice on how to manage their stress.

"The medical profession has a high-stress quotient. Doctors have long, gruelling working hours, which is very taxing. Stress is more like an occupational part of a doctor's job," Parikh told IANS.

"Hence there are times when doctors, who are fellow colleagues, come to me looking for advice and suggestions on how to manage their stress," he added.

According to Malhotra, emotional stress, more than physical burden, is what affects doctors.

"Doctors have to constantly give emotional support to their patients, especially in cases of terminal illnesses. You have to understand that doctors are, after all, human beings. And try as they may, they do get affected by their patients' and the relatives' emotional turmoil," Malhotra said.

"It's especially tough for young resident doctors and students because in addition to their course curriculum, they have to hone their patient handling skills," he added.

Author and behavioural trainer at Human Impact Training and Consulting Private Limited, Lata Gwalani, agrees.

"Doctors have been encouraged to put up a facade of emotional calmness and stability in front of their patients. They are taught to continuously underplay emotions - both in acknowledging others' emotions and in accepting their own. This invalidation of emotion creates a huge build-up of emotional baggage," Gwalani said.

"Over time, this baggage becomes too unwieldy to carry around. Emotional labour takes its toll on us. While most working people are doing some amount of emotional labour, doctors are perhaps the best examples of extreme emotional labour. Breaking bad news is difficult," she added.

Ziaur Rahman, a doctor, remembers one of his colleagues succumbing to liquor.

"Our profession is such that it is deeply satisfying, but at the same time stressful. If you cannot handle it well and know where to draw the line, it can cost you your health," Rahman told IANS.

"I remember one of my colleagues - a very good doctor - getting addicted to alcohol over a period of time. Along with the addiction came a host of health problems and, sadly, it cost him his life. Having said that, most doctors do know how to juggle their professional and personal lives," he added.

"I am a doctor, but I have to admit that it's very difficult to lead a healthy lifestyle and follow my own advice that I give my patients," Sashwati Banerjee, a young doctor, said. "The long working hours, the night shifts, the's very easy to succumb to these with a few puffs of smoke or a peg or two of alcohol."

Having said that, it's not very difficult to deal with stress, counsellors say.

"The most important thing for the doctor is to be able to draw the line between empathy and sympathy. Empathise with your patient, try to understand the pain, but at the end of the day, you should tell yourself that you did the best you could," Malhotra said.

"One should also take out some time for relaxation. Simple exercises and yoga can help. Hospitals should also ensure that doctors get some space, for instance, to eat their lunch on time, or spend time with their family," he added.

Gwalani added: "Some amount of de-clinicing during the day will considerably help. The doctor can choose a time during the day to shut out the outside world and indulge in some meditative music. Doing some deep breathing, visualisations and positive affirmations can help rid negativity".

"Finally, people should respect a doctor's private time. Of course, in an emergency you will seek help. But other than that, one should understand that like others, they too need time for themselves and their personal life," Malhotra said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at





Home | Top of the Page


Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of

Comments powered by DISQUS


More Headlines

Government to raise Rs.4,000 crore by selling stake in SAIL

Court stays construction of mosque near Jama Masjid

Employees earning up to Rs.5 lakh annually exempt from filing tax return

14 shot dead at US theatre screening Batman film

Praful denies resignation, NCP stays with UPA

125,000 pilgrims to 'benefit' from Haj subsidy

Replace rape with sexual assault, cabinet proposes

Nizam's heirs seek Pakistani intervention to unfreeze bank account

One killed in Maharashtra train accident, probe ordered

US hit by worst drought since 1950s

Russia, China veto West's UN draft resolution on Syria

FDI in retail on hold till CMs respond, says Anand Sharma





Top Stories

Advantage Pranab as lawmakers vote to elect new president

Indian lawmakers Thursday voted to elect a new president in what is a direct contest between ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee 

The mathematics of India's presidential poll

Race for Raisina Hill on, Pranab, Sangma file nominations


  Most Read

125,000 pilgrims to 'benefit' from Haj subsidy

Some 125,000 Indian Muslims going for the annual Haj pilgrimage would be covered by the government subsidy this year, it was announced Friday. This means Rs.4.75 billion of the travel costs will be borne 

Court stays construction of mosque near Jama Masjid

The Delhi High Court Friday stayed the construction of a mosque near the proposed Jama Masjid Metro station and told the municipal corporation to hand over the site to the Archaeological  

Traces of historical mosque found near Jama Masjid, visitors pour in


  News Pick

Praful denies resignation, NCP stays with UPA

The NCP was unhappy with the way the government was run but there was no question of quitting the cabinet, Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel  

Unhappy Pawar, Patel offer to quit

Nizam's heirs seek Pakistani intervention to unfreeze bank account

The descendants of the Nizam have appealed to Pakistan to reciprocate to India's offer of an out-of-court settlement over the wealth of the ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state lying locked up in  

Halal India launches online restaurant guide

India, with a population of over 170 million Muslims, gets its first online restaurant guide. In an event encouraged with the presence of Chennai  

Russia, China veto UN draft resolution on Syria third time

Russia and China Thursday vetoed a Western-backed UN resolution on Syria over fears that it could lead to foreign military intervention in the violence-wracked Middle East country. "We offered 


Picture of the Day

Mohd. Hamid Ansari filing the nomination papers for the Vice Presidential Election, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Chairperson, National Advisory Council, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries, at Parliament, in New Delhi on July 18, 2012.



RSS  |  Contact us


| Quick links



Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant



Science & Technology



About us




Government Schemes










Contact us




    Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.