Crying is an acceptable way to manage emotional stressBMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1642 (Published 12 April 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l1642
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In the present era of medicine, the pressing issue is the emotions of medical professionals - how they are dealing with them and what are the consequences.
A doctor who is supposed to treat patients and promote health care also experience things that are horrifying. Doctors do profound things without any hesitation or any other signs of weaknesses on their faces because they have to, it’s not an option. So they need some degree of detachment from reality for survival. The challenge for them is to balance the scales of life and death in their hands in addition to the heavy responsibility of carrying the health and wellness of their patients and living their own personal lives.
They are habituated to mask their feelings and keep them to themselves. But as it is with every person, a doctor also has to express his feelings at least to some or the other and it is the situation that alerts him whether to express or not. Addressing emotions of patients should be in the right situation, in a correct manner because it may have an impact on the doctor-patient relationship and affects his clinical decision making. It is the type of emotion that had much impact on the patient not the intensity of emotion, duration, coping strategies. Emotions like crying, showing some concern towards patients' situation by touching, supporting them may have a positive impact. But things like going away from the situation, defending oneself may have a negative impact. To deal with these emotions physicians must come up with different strategies like listening to the patients more, completing their work, showing empathy, breathing deeply, thinking about the next action, etc. He has to be stable and put them aside during interaction with the patient but at some point, they need to be addressed. If not he may end up building a lot of stress, aggressive behavior and angry outbursts which may not be good for his professional life. As per multiple studies, medical students are more prone to mental health problems, we must take it seriously and medical schools not only offered but required regular mental health check-ups, to their students.
Emotions are inconvenient sometimes. They will pull you back and impact your focus on clinical care. But it doesn’t mean that you must avoid them completely and, moreover, it is not a sign of weakness just being human. This problem of dealing with emotions while talking to patients must be focussed on and should be addressed in the early career of medical training, as along the course they come across many emotional events. The attendings discussing moments, sharing how they handle or mishandle might help trainees a ton. This is how doctors become pros at keeping emotions under control.
Competing interests: No competing interests