Canadian Medical Association

Depression is a common, serious illness that affects how people feel, think and act. Physicians are at particular risk: according to the CMA National Physician Health Survey, more than 1 in 3 physicians and residents have screened positive for depression. 

When physicians suffer from depression and other mental health issues, it can have a negative impact on patient outcomes and the performance of the health care system as a whole.

This page provides information and resources to help you understand, identify and manage depression. You’ll also find strategies to cope with the stressors that can affect your mood.

What is depression?

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, clinical depression is a complex mood disorder that can be caused by a number of factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress and brain chemistry. 

The main symptom of depression is a sad, despairing mood that is present for most of the day, lasts for more than two weeks, and impairs your performance at work/school or in social relationships

Other symptoms of depression include: 

  • Changes in appetite or weight 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in work, hobbies, people or sex 
  • Withdrawal from family members and friends 
  • Feeling useless, hopeless, guilty or pessimistic 
  • Lack of self-esteem 
  • Irritability 
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions 
  • Crying easily or not being able to cry 
  • Thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously) 
  • Hearing voices (hallucinations) or having strange ideas (delusions)

What to do if you are struggling with depression

Get confidential support from the Wellness Support Line and/or your provincial physician health program. 

In crisis? Get immediate help by:

•    Calling 911 or visiting the nearest hospital.

Are you in distress? Get help now. 

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