Saturday, January 06, 2007

Chronic sleep deprivation, Stress, and Depression

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the recent shoddy posting. I'm on a new rotation, and am getting worked! The past week has been very long hours (12-20+hrs a day) and very stressful. By day two, I woke up dreading work like never before. And on that day, was REALLY sad that I still had a full month of it to look forward to. Details to come later. I've snapped out of the funk, because things are running smoother.

But being in the funk made me realize how many residents are probably depressed. I've recently seen a lot of med school friends while running around in the hospital doing derm consults. I have to say, they've been pretty toxic. And most who aren't are depressed. Most residencies run very close to 80 hours a week. For 12 months non-stop. At least I'm only going to be unbearably tired for a month. I can't even imagine doing it for a year, much less three or more!

A close friend put it best: "I put on a happy face for the world, but deep down, there's some baseline depression going on." This is coming from one of the most cheerful people, who has been chronically sleep deprived for the past year and a half.

If any of you have personal experience, you'll know that not sleeping well makes the world seem more blue. And add on stress at work, and the fact that you're always at work - it's enough to make anyone depressed! I think there may be a silent epidemic going on, and that the majority of housestaff, being chronically tired and stressed, are depressed.

It's not healthy, and it shouldn't have to be this way.

photo credit


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For a year and a half following a divorce, I worked two full-time jobs and for about 6 months during that time I also worked two part-time jobs on the weekends for a total of 16 hours between them. And I had four children at home. I might possibly have been depressed during those 18 months but I was always too tired, and worried about my kids, to realize it if I was. So, I do sympathize with this post. I was so thankful once I got debts somewhat cleared away and found a good-paying single job that would support the family.

8:37 AM  
Blogger ipanema said...

Very true indeed. My recent holidays changed something though. I was able to sleep better which wasn't possible before. My recent loss found me waking up in the middle of the night. Other times, I cry to sleep. Real sad being depressed.

4:53 PM  

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