Research (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/410643_2) shows that the incidence of clinical depression among physicians in all walks of life is higher than in the lay public, as is suicidal ideation, with rates of depression and suicide highest among psychiatrists.
Divorce and social distance is a factor in physician suicide rates as well, with divorce rates 10-20% higher than that of the general population and with a lower level of reported satisfaction than the general public in their marriages. The same traits that make doctors so good at their jobs, their ability to focus on work, to postpone pleasures that many others enjoy in the interest of something else, can work against them in intimate relationships.
That postponement of pleasure can lead to compulsivity, a personality trait that plays into another major problem that doctors face: substance abuse. While alcohol and illegal drug use among doctors is approximately the same as the general population, but doctors are at increased risk of prescription drug abuse. Doctors have easy access to powerful medications that they can procure in life-threatening quantities if they so choose.
This is in addition to a litany of known contributing factors within the culture of medicine: perfectionism, workaholism, self-neglect, a perceived inability of physicians to open up to others about their weaknesses. About their need to appear superhuman.
So what can we do? These are major social problems that will not disappear overnight. For some guidance on the subject we turn to Dr. Pamela Wible, one of America's leading experts on physician wellness. Her webpage is available at http://www.idealmedicalcare.org.