Robert Frierson, M.D., Steven Lippmann, M.D.
The emergence of coronavirus infections has had a profound impact on most physicians, including psychiatrists. The stress on doctors prompted a survey of Louisville, KY physicians, to inquire about discomfort experienced when caring for patients during this current pandemic. The ways that these clinicians achieved some relief was recorded.
Distress focused on fear of infecting their family or getting sick themselves. Feeling helpless, lamenting diminished personal contact with patients, and inadequate protective gear were big concerns. They noted worsening of emotional issues, much more drug abuse, and rising suicide rates. Hospital staff morale problems and sadness about the social adversity of family unable to be with ill or dying relatives were other worries reported.
These doctors expressed ideas of how best to cope with the pandemic. Open discussion with colleagues, being more appreciative of patient’s clinical progress, and avoiding too much coronavirus news was helpful. They enjoyed community support and found that being more attentive and thoughtful toward everyone also yielded benefit. Self-care was a repeatedly emphasized topic. They recommend care to their own sleep, exercise, and family; coronavirus-related activism and prayer were further cited means for stress reduction.