Suicide risk across the spectrum

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

Between 10-20% of doctors become depressed at some point in their career and they have a higher risk of suicide than the general population. [s]The Guardian[/s] reports that this is according to a survey of members of the UK-based [b]Doctors Support Network[/b], a self-help group for doctors with mental health issues, which found that 68% of the 116 doctors who took part had a diagnosis of depression; others reported diagnoses of bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders and addictions. Dr Clare Gerada, former president of the [b]Royal College of General Practitioners[/b], says it is clear that the number of doctors becoming affected by mental illness or addiction is a frontline issue that could have catastrophic consequences.

Serious mental illnesses reduce life expectancy by 10 to 20 years, an analysis by [b]Oxford University[/b] psychiatrists has shown – a loss of years that’s equivalent to or worse than that for heavy smoking, says a report on the Oxford University site. Oxford researchers say their figures on life expectancy should galvanise governments and health and social services to put a much higher priority on how mental health services can prevent early deaths.

There is still not enough evidence to recommend either for or against patients getting routinely screened for suicide risk by their primary care doctors, an influential panel of experts said. [s]Health24[/s] reports that a final recommendation from the [b]US Preventive Services Task Force[/b] notes that the ruling applies to when doctors are dealing with teens, adults and older adults without a mental health disorder or symptoms of mental illness. However, the panel said, primary care doctors should screen teens and adults for depression. The report says suicide remains a major public health issue in the US.

One in three first-time mothers suffer symptoms of depression linked to their baby’s birth while pregnant and/or during the first four years of the child’s life. [s]The Guardian[/s] reports that this is according to research, which challenges the notion that mothers’ birth-related mental struggles usually happen at or after the baby’s arrival. researchers from the [b]Murdoch Children’s Research Institute[/b] and [b]Royal Children’s Hospital[/b] found that almost one in three first-time mothers reported ‘depressive symptoms on at least one occasion from early pregnancy to four years postpartum (and that) the prevalence of depressive symptoms was highest at four years postpartum’. The women’s depressive symptoms are often short-lived episodes and do not mean that the women were diagnosed with postnatal depression.

Full report in The Guardian
Journal of Mental Health review
Full report on the Oxford University site
Full Health24 report
USPSTF recommendations
Full report in The Guardian
BJOG article summary

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