It starts with a twinge in the chest, a slight tremor in the hands, and difficulty catching a breath. My old companions, anxiety and depression, have joined me once again. Sometimes an event or a personal interaction precedes their appearance. Sometimes they show up out of nowhere and club me in the chest. As a child, I was frequently referred to as “high-strung,” but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized it is so much more than that.
Millions of Americans experience mental illness, which tends to affect women more than men. A fraction of those people seek treatment.
Once I reached high school, I started volunteering at the child psychiatric ward at Stonybrook Hospital. I have always been drawn to the mental health field. I felt that if I could provide some comfort to other people, I may be able to develop some coping mechanisms of my own. Most of the time, medications, therapy, and yoga have helped keep my symptoms at bay.
As a medical provider, I am uniquely positioned to be both provider and patient with a stigmatized diagnosis. Serving others is noble, but little allowance is given to medical providers with mental health issues, especially over the past two years. We are expected to work on skeleton crews, twelve plus hour days, often without sufficient sleep, personal protective equipment, or administrative support.
Mistakes made by medical providers can be reported to their respective medical boards, which are on your record for life. Fears of reprimands, suspension, or in worst cases, license revocation can exacerbate pre-existing anxiety. Patients who are unhappy with their care can post reviews on Google. This may affect your reputation, your livelihood, and overall mental health. 
I am trying to keep my symptoms controlled not only for my sake but also for my loved ones. Exercising when possible (if you count running after three young active boys as exercise) releases endorphins or “happy hormones.”
Therapy and medication also alleviate the worst of the symptoms. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), propranolol, and buspirone are commonly prescribed to help patients.
Approaching mental health issues is sort of like dating—you may need to try several different options until you find one you like. For anyone suffering from mental health issues, whether you work in the medical field or not, please know you are not alone. Seek help, ask for support, and know that there are solutions.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
About the Author: Elissa Presner, PA – C, has been in the medical field since 2009. She lives in NJ with her three rambunctious boys, dumb but lovable shorkie, and her supportive, loving husband Michael.
 Mata, D. A., MD, MPH; Ramos, M.A., MPhil, MSed; Bansal, N, PhD. (2015 December 8). Prevalence of Depression and Depressive Symptom Among Resident Physicians. The Journal of the American Medical Association. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2474424
 Mehta, S.S., Edwards, M.L., MD. (2018 November 1). Suffering in Silence: Mental Health Stigma and Physicians’
Licensing Fears. The American Journal of Psychiatry. https://psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp-rj.2018.131101
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