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Approximately 13% of Psychiatrists with Major Depression in Thailand: Loneliness & Work Stress Factors (2024 Study)

Depression, a pervasive mental health issue, affects individuals across various professions, including those within the psychiatric field.

A recent study in Thailand sheds light on the prevalence and associated factors of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) among psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees, offering insights into the mental well-being of those expected to be at the forefront of mental health care.


  1. Prevalence of Depression: 13.9% of psychiatrists and 7.7% of psychiatry trainees in Thailand suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
  2. Associated Factors: Loneliness, work satisfaction, and work stress are significantly associated with depression among psychiatrists, whereas psychiatry trainees’ depression correlates with loneliness and their perceived ability to control work schedules.
  3. Sex & Age Distribution: The majority of participants were female (64.9%), with a median age of 34 years, highlighting the demographic profile of the study population.
  4. Need for Intervention: Despite a relatively low prevalence of depression compared to global figures, the study underscores the importance of targeted interventions to address loneliness, work stress, and job satisfaction among mental health professionals.

Source: BMC Psychiatry (2024)

Why Research Depression in Psychiatrists?

Psychiatrists, tasked with diagnosing and treating mental health disorders, often face unique stressors and challenges that can predispose them to higher rates of depression and other mental health issues compared to the general population.

Understanding the prevalence and factors contributing to depression among psychiatrists is crucial for various reasons.

1. Mental Health Stigma Reduction

Research in this area can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues among healthcare professionals.

Psychiatrists, like their patients, are susceptible to mental health challenges, yet they might hesitate to seek help due to fears of professional repercussions or stigma.

Highlighting the rates of depression within this group emphasizes that mental health issues do not discriminate by profession, encouraging a culture of openness and support.

2. Enhancing Psychiatrist Well-Being

Identifying the extent of depression among psychiatrists is the first step towards developing targeted interventions and support systems to enhance their well-being.

This is paramount not only for the individual healthcare providers but also for the health system at large.

Psychiatrists who are mentally healthy are better equipped to provide high-quality care, maintain professionalism, and exhibit empathy towards their patients.

3. Improving Patient Care

The mental health of psychiatrists directly impacts the quality of care provided to patients.

Depression can affect cognitive functions, decision-making abilities, and interpersonal skills, potentially compromising patient care.

By understanding and addressing the factors leading to depression among psychiatrists, the healthcare system can ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment.

4. Workforce Retention & Productivity

Depression can lead to burnout, decreased productivity, and even attrition from the profession.

Researching depression rates among psychiatrists can inform policies and practices designed to support mental health in the workplace, thereby improving job satisfaction, reducing turnover, and ensuring a stable and effective workforce.

5. Informing Training & Education Programs

Insights from research on depression among psychiatrists can be integrated into medical education and residency training programs.

This can prepare future psychiatrists to better manage their mental health, understand the importance of self-care, and develop resilience against the stressors of their profession.

6. Fostering a Supportive Professional Environment

Understanding the nuances of depression within the psychiatric profession can lead to the creation of a more supportive and empathetic professional environment.

This includes peer support programs, mentorship, and access to mental health resources specifically tailored to the needs of healthcare providers.

Major Findings: Depression in Thai Psychiatrists & Psychiatry Trainees (2024)

Jarurin Pitanupong et al. conducted a study to evaluate the mental health of psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees in Thailand.

The results underscore the importance of addressing mental health issues in healthcare providers, who are often at the frontline of offering support to others facing psychological challenges.

1. Prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)

Overall Prevalence: The study identified that 12.4% of all participants were experiencing MDD, highlighting a significant concern within the psychiatric profession in Thailand. This prevalence rate provides a quantitative measure of the mental health challenges faced by this cohort.

Comparison Between Psychiatrists vs. Trainees: A notable finding was the difference in prevalence rates between psychiatrists (13.9%) and psychiatry trainees (7.7%). This distinction suggests varying levels of psychological stress and the impact of different stages of professional development on mental health.

2. Factors Linked to Depression in Psychiatrists

The study’s multifaceted analysis revealed several factors significantly associated with depression among psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees.

  • Loneliness: Across both groups, loneliness emerged as a strong predictor of MDD. This association highlights the critical role of social connections and support systems in mitigating mental health issues within the medical profession.
  • Work Satisfaction & Stress: For psychiatrists, lower levels of work satisfaction and higher levels of work stress were significantly associated with higher depression scores. These findings underscore the impact of job-related factors on mental well-being and suggest that improving work environments could contribute to reducing depression rates among psychiatrists.
  • Ability to Control Work Schedule: Among psychiatry trainees, the perceived ability to control their work schedule was significantly linked to depression, indicating the importance of autonomy and flexibility in work arrangements for early-career psychiatrists.

3. Sex & Age Distribution

The majority of participants were female (64.9%), and the median age was 34 years.

This demographic profile points to a younger, predominantly female workforce within the Thai psychiatric community, suggesting that interventions to support mental health may need to be tailored to these demographics.

Depression in Psychiatrists & Trainees in Thailand (2024 Study)

The primary objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) among Thai psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees.

The study also aimed to identify and analyze the factors associated with depression in this particular group, including demographic, work-related characteristics, perceptions towards social support, work satisfaction, stress, the ability to control work schedules, and loneliness.


  • Design and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted online from January to February 2023, targeting Thai psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees. A calculated sample size of at least 197 participants was aimed for, based on previous literature and the expected prevalence rates of MDD among psychiatrists.
  • Data Collection Tools: The survey utilized an online questionnaire divided into four sections: demographic and work-related information; perceptions towards social support and work; the Thai version of the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) for depression assessment; and the 6-item Revised UCLA Loneliness Scale Thai version for measuring loneliness.
  • Statistical Analysis: Descriptive statistics were employed to summarize the data. The association between depression and potential contributing factors was analyzed using multiple linear regression analyses, with variables selected based on their p-values from univariate analyses.


  • Prevalence of Depression: The study found that 12.4% of the participants had MDD, with psychiatrists showing a slightly higher prevalence (13.9%) compared to psychiatry trainees (7.7%).
  • Associated Factors: For psychiatrists, depression was significantly associated with loneliness, perceived levels of work satisfaction, and work stress. In contrast, for psychiatry trainees, depression correlated with loneliness and the perceived ability to control their work schedule.
  • Demographic Profile: A notable majority of the participants were female (64.9%), and the median age was 34 years, indicating a young and predominantly female cohort within the Thai psychiatric community.


  • Response Rate & Selection Bias: The study had a response rate of 36.2%, and being an online survey, it may have missed psychiatrists and trainees not active on social media or those disinclined to participate due to depression or related issues.
  • Generalizability: The findings, while insightful for the Thai context, might not be directly applicable to psychiatrists and trainees in different countries due to cultural, economic, and healthcare system differences.
  • Cross-Sectional Design: The cross-sectional nature of the study means it can identify associations but not causation between depression and its associated factors.
  • Unexplored Factors: Certain potential contributing factors to depression, such as specific workplace conditions, personal lifestyle choices, and socio-economic status, were not included in the survey.

What are the potential implications & applications of the findings?

The findings from this study on the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) among Thai psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees have several important implications for both policy-making and clinical practice within the realm of mental health care.

These implications can inform targeted interventions, policy adjustments, and further research avenues, aiming to enhance the mental well-being of mental health professionals and, by extension, the quality of care provided to patients.

  1. Development of Supportive Work Environments: Understanding that work satisfaction and stress significantly impact psychiatrists’ mental health suggests that creating supportive and less stressful work environments could mitigate depression rates. Hospitals and psychiatric institutions might implement policies that promote work-life balance, reduce work hours, and ensure manageable caseloads.
  2. Enhanced Social Support Networks: With loneliness identified as a significant factor associated with depression across both psychiatrists and trainees, there’s a clear need for enhanced social support networks. Initiatives could include mentorship programs, peer support groups, and social gatherings that foster a sense of community and belonging among mental health professionals.
  3. Flexible Work Schedules: For psychiatry trainees, the ability to control work schedules was notably linked to depression. Introducing more flexible scheduling options could help reduce stress and improve job satisfaction for those early in their psychiatric careers.
  4. Mental Health Programs for Psychiatrists: The study highlights the necessity for targeted mental health programs that cater specifically to psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees. These programs could focus on stress management, coping strategies, and resilience building, tailored to the unique challenges faced by these professionals.
  5. Further Research: The findings pave the way for further research, particularly longitudinal studies that can explore causal relationships and the effectiveness of various intervention strategies over time. Additionally, expanding this research to other regions and contexts could provide a more comprehensive understanding of global trends in psychiatrist and trainee mental health.

Conclusion: Depression in Psychiatrists & Trainees

This study’s exploration into the mental health of Thai psychiatrists and psychiatry trainees uncovers crucial insights into the prevalence and factors associated with Major Depressive Disorder within this group.

By highlighting the significant impact of loneliness, work satisfaction, work stress, and the ability to control work schedules on mental health, it calls for immediate action to address these issues.

The implications of these findings are far-reaching, suggesting that both institutional and policy-level changes are necessary to foster supportive environments for mental health professionals.

Implementing flexible work schedules, enhancing social support networks, and developing targeted mental health programs could be effective strategies to mitigate depression rates among psychiatrists and trainees.

Ultimately, prioritizing the mental well-being of those who care for the mental health of others not only benefits the professionals themselves but also enhances the quality and effectiveness of psychiatric care for patients.

The study serves as a critical reminder of the need to care for caregivers, ensuring they have the support and resources to thrive both professionally and personally.


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