Depression and the Dentist

A woman suffering from depression

The 15th April saw the beginning of Depression Awareness Week. The week has been taking place for the last 12 years and aims to raise funds for charities like Depression Alliance, end the stigma associated with depression and, most importantly, raise awareness about the crippling condition. With the Workplace in Europe Audit conducted last year showing that Brits are the most depressed workers in all of Europe, raising awareness is important. Depression is not only a personal issue, but an economical issue too: the audit showed that the UK was one of the top countries reporting depression-related absences from work.

It is commonly suggested that dentists, over all other professions, have the highest rate of both depression and suicide. There is actually no evidence to suggest that dentists have a high chance of depression, let alone the highest. But perhaps it is better to be thought of as miserable and unfulfilled than as the sadists portrayed in both Little Shop of Horrors and Marathon Man, where the dentists depicted take great pleasure in inflicting pain!

Luckily, stigmas associated with both dental treatment and dentists themselves seem to be changing. The Adult Dental Health Survey is reporting a rise in patient satisfaction with 80% of people having no complaints about recent dental visits.

Being a dentist is a rewarding and social job: for many it is a passion and a vocation as much as it is a profession. On applying to dental school, students without the obvious aspiration for hands-on work, maximum patient interaction and a desire to help are hastily encouraged to pursue other options. Even during dental school, students who prove themselves to be incapable of dealing with the demands of general practice are recommended to find other paths of study. Dental school in itself prepares future dentists for an active and sometimes taxing career and graduates students who are prepared and able to meet the demands expected of modern dentists.

But the rumours certainly stem from somewhere: being a dentist can be stressful. The profession comes with a relatively low status within the medical profession and many dentists report difficulty developing relationships with some patients. Not to mention that, for many people, visiting the dentist is not at all looked forward to; this certainly makes for a miserable day for the dentist too. Waiting lists, delays, prices, bad news – all can push the average patient to an irritation often aimed at the dentist, which can make for a seemingly unsuccessful day.

But regardless of which profession suffers most, depression can be disabling and supporting charities like Depression Alliance can help the thousands of people struggling. Depression Alliance provides local support, online services, supporter schemes and much more to aid the population who are suffering in silence.

To make a donation to Depression Alliance, visit the following link: www.justgiving.com/depression/donate

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