Darrell Kirch, MD, is a former medical school dean, president emeritus of the AAMC and co-chair of the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being and Resilience. He has recently shared his own lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, which stem in part from traumatic experiences early in life, including trauma and sexual abuse. The March 28 2023 issue of AAMC News reveals more details of his story and those of three other physicians who have faced their own vulnerability and mental health challenges, including SUD, and are now inspiring others through their courage.
Pamela Wible's Physician Suicide Letters is not your usual entry in the "Inspirational Stories" category. It is rather a compilation of unsolicited writings to Wible from suicide survivors, and posthumously, physicians who died by suicide, which came to her because of her widespread activism on the topic through her website, "Ideal Medical Care". You can read excerpts there and see for yourself that it is a compelling document, detailing some rarely expressed thoughts about the effects of an education and career in medicine, what it is like to be contemplating suicide as a provider, and how it feels to be a survivor.
Author Lois Leveen reviews a book in the LA Review of books regarding a young surgeon who coped with terminal cancer while completing his residency. He mentioned that just before his diagnosis he learned of the suicide of a colleague. Leveen writes about suicide in medical professionals and how the philosophical lessons in the book she reviews could possibly enrich the lives of physicians dealing with depression.
Here are some inspirational stories about health care providers who have been open about their experiences of depression.
Dr. Nathaniel Morris published his own story in the Washington Post in Jan 2017. Entitled "Why Doctors are Leery about seeking Mental Health Care for Themselves", Morris, a Harvard med school graduate with a history of depression describes his own trepidation in seeking licensure to allow him to proceed with residency training. He is now a resident at Stanford.
Dr. Aron Carroll's Upshots column in the NYT 1/12/16 entitled "Silence is the Enemy for Doctors with Depression" describes his own approach to his depression and the benefits of open discussion.
Dr. Robert Lehmberg's story will be aired as part of a PBS special "Struggling in Silence", airing in May 2008.
California's Ken Kizer MD, an emergency physician and health care reform agent, is a suicide survivor.
Leon Rosenberg is former dean of Yale University School of Medicine. His little publicized but stirring account of his lifelong battle with bipolar disease and very serious suicide attempt, "Brainsick: A Physician's Journey to the Brink" can be found at Dana Foundation's Cerebrum V4 No 4 Fall 2002. More of his story can be found at All about Psychotherapy, including the fact that even he did not reveal his diagnosis or seek treatment due to concerns about stigmatization.
Daniel Fisher MD PhD speaks out about his recovery from Schizophrenia in a Medscape interview
Acclaimed surgeon and medical author Sherwin Nuland has suffered from lifelong depression requiring ECT.