When Psychiatrists Face Their Own Mental Disorders

Psychiatrists no less than others are subject to mental disorders and inner turmoil.  It is likely that psychiatric training highlights for psychiatrists the issues they face within themselves. This may lead them to find the treatment needed for their own health and, in turn, lead to their becoming more sensitive to finding effective help for their patients. Some physicians who choose to become psychiatrists may be prompted by an awareness of an inner turbulence, of anxiety, depression or destructive behavioral impulses. In addressing these issues in themselves they can help others who might suffer similarly, bringing compassion and empathy to the help they offer.

Personal account 1: A Psychiatric Resident’s Struggle with Anorexia: During her last years in medical school, this psychiatric resident describes in wrenching immediacy her struggle with anorexia and depression. Commentary by Anna L. Dickerman, M.D

Personal account 2: Healing Narratives of a Physician with Bipolar Disorder. In this contribution, John Budin, M.D., a recently retired psychiatrist describes his suspicion during his residency that he suffered from bipolar disorder. Many years later, he claimed the diagnosis and received treatment.  In an Afterword, he addresses questions about self-disclosure, medication, and peer support. Also, a letter expressing the value of acknowledging one’s mental disorder appears in Psychiatric Times: https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.pn.2019.12b51   Please also refer to the section, “The Value of Peer Support.”

Personal account 3: How I Came Together as a Person and as a Psychiatrist. This contribution follows a troubled teenager through college, medical school, psychiatric residency,  psychoanalytic training and his subsequent career. As an apparent outcome of personal psychoanalysis, he finds satisfaction, personally and professionally.