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This interview with Adam Kay, author of "This Is Going To Hurt", will resonate with many doctors. The latter stages of the interview are quite NHS-centric but much of the underlying message is relevant to doctors here in Queensland and across the world.

The TLDR version: bit.ly/2V5xgdh

If you would like to speak to someone confidentially call Queensland Doctors' Health Programme on 07 3833 4352.
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Today is #LoveYourPetDay (like we needed any excuse).

Here's our counsellor and education officer Vicky Dawes's dog looking like a woodland pixie...

How does your pet help your wellbeing?
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"What's the bravest thing you've ever said?" asked the boy.
"Help" said the horse.

From the beautiful book, "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy.

Queensland Doctors' Health Programme is available 24/7 on 07 3833 4352.
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A thoughtful piece of writing from a UK Psychiatrist, shared here with permission. Personal insights like this help highlight the complexities of being a doctor-patient (and also how to be a doctor to a doctor-patient). At the heart of this lies our shared common humanity, we are all humans first, doctors second.

Altitude Wellness

‘Antidepressants numb your emotions’.

Whilst it is true that SSRI antidepressants, like escitalopram and sertraline, are known to have emotional blunting as a potential side effect, and the forums are rich with people describing this, the story may be a little more nuanced.

Luckily for me, emotional numbing wasn’t my personal experience with escitalopram over the past few years.

Back in October 2017, my mood was taking a nosedive; good-feeling being replaced with irritability and challenging anxiety. My ability to connect with others was taking a hit; my patients, my colleagues and my family. Or at least I felt it was - I certainly had to work much harder to achieve the way of being in the world that I valued. I was also losing pleasure in, and desire to engage with, music, photography and other things that usually sustain me.

I’ve had depression several times before and have tried to manage it in a range of ways. Some of the better ways included counselling, St John’s Wort and, more prophylactically, years of Jungian psychoanalysis. I knew I needed to do something about it or I was heading for time off work with greater disruption to my life - something I feared at the time would bring a whole new range of challenges.

I chose to see my GP and consider a course of antidepressants.

I was curious about the experience I would have with them. I wasn’t sure whether it was necessary, whether they would help or whether I was really ‘ill’ enough to benefit from them (some studies suggest they’re effectively placebo unless you really are ill enough). I was aware of my own biases and thoughts about potential placebo activity. But I knew I needed something.

Within a matter of weeks, I was feeling a lot better. I tolerated the SSRI with minimal side effects (although initially I questioned whether the initial teeth-grinding at work was really acceptable - perhaps more my awareness than others’).

During that period, I seriously still questioned whether I should continue with them. An overly-critical and invalidating inner voice belittled my use of escitalopram and told me that I didn’t need it; that I was being over-dramatic and self-pitying. My GP advised me to continue - “what would you advise your patients in this situation?”

My GP was the professional I needed at the time. Friendly, attentive, focussed and interested in my life situation. She advised around various stressors and expressed caution about expecting an SSRI to solve everything.

I continued with the medicine for a couple of years; noticing significant ongoing benefit with a baseline level of anxiety I had experienced for decades. It also became much clearer to me after the episode how depressed I had actually become. It was still a reasonably circumscribed episode but I had trouble ‘seeing the wood for the trees’ in my thinking style at that time. The hopelessness had not totally engulfed me but had worked its way in to a range of issues by stealth. After the SSRI, I no longer felt the same way and the future felt entirely worth aiming for again.

For me, antidepressants worked.

I experienced mild side effects and had to wean myself off it very slowly. When I missed doses, I had an unpleasant ‘head-fizz’ - worse when I turned my head. It was like someone transiently detuning a pocket FM radio in my brain. This became more noticeable when reducing from my moderate dose with the intention of stopping. During that withdrawal phase, I experienced bouts of low mood which lasted for several days at a time. They tended to be self-limiting; probably aided by extra sleep and a need to be kind to myself. Managing the fear that I would become depressed and anxious again was important.

For that two year period, I didn’t really realise that I had been separated from an old friend - my rumbling ambiguous feelings, underlying insecurities and deep, sometimes confusing emotional chatter. Meeting this part of myself again was a curious thing. It felt a little like being trapped in a lift with someone I didn't really like. Perhaps the SSRI slowly winched me back up the lift shaft, leaving this ‘friend’ talking away to himself in the stricken car.

I certainly felt I could function better at that altitude.
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Doctors' health doesn't end when you retire!

The Toowoomba-based Women's Medical Society Retirees meet quarterly to connect and have fun in life after medicine.

Their next morning tea is coming up Tuesday 10th February at 10am and they are keen to welcome new members.

For more information, contact us: admin@qdhp.org.au
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Congratulations new QLD interns! We have enjoyed meeting so many of you throughout orientation week. The next few weeks can be a real rollercoaster while you adjust to your new job (and title - Imposter syndrome is very very normal!) Please give us a call if you'd like to talk to someone confidentially or if you'd like some guidance on finding a good GP for yourself. We are here 24/7 on 07 3833 4352. ... See MoreSee Less

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Welcome to all new QLD interns! Time to get used to introducing yourself as "Dr ..." 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️

Starting work as an intern can be every shade of exciting, terrifying and overwhelming! We are here to support you.

The Queensland Doctors' Health Programme is here if you need to talk on 07 3833 4352.
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Do you have an interest in doctors' health? Don't miss out on your opportunity to present at the upcoming International Conference on Physician Health in London, 14 - 16 September 2020. The call for abstracts closes on 31st January.

www.bma.org.uk/events/2020/september/international-conference-on-physician-health-2020
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Happy New Year from all of us at the Queensland Doctors' Health Programme! ... See MoreSee Less

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The QDHP office will be closed over the holiday period from 25th December reopening on the 2nd January.

The helpline will remain open 24/7 throughout the festive season on 07 3833 4352.
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Doctors have expressed their creativity through writing for centuries.

Here are a just a few of the QDHP team's favourites.

Who is your favourite doctor author? Or are you a doctor with hidden writing talents yourself?
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We encourage all doctors and medical students to have their own GP (and importantly, that you build a trusted relationship with them), but what about being a doctor to another doctor? How do you find the correct balance with a health literate patient who still needs support and care like any other patient?

A new online modular education course is now available to help you to learn more about caring for and treating your doctor colleagues: www.drs4drs.com.au/become-a-dr4drs/
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3 months ago

Queensland Doctors' Health Programme

Fantastic initiative out of Sydney. How often have you got to the end of your work day without eating and drinking properly? How much would it help to have a workplace that actively supports you to be hydrated and nourished?! 🍽🥗A recent survey undertaken by our RPA MDOK wellbeing team found that most of our junior doctors struggle to find time to take meal breaks. Or even drink enough water to keep themselves adequately hydrated during their shifts.
Research shows that taking regular breaks improves wellbeing, decision-making and mood, which is better for our patients.
So, last month, we instituted protected lunch breaks where we encourage junior doctors to take a break between 12pm and 1pm each day. Paging is limited to emergencies only during this time.
This week, we also installed vending machines around RPA providing fresh, healthy meals for staff around the clock – particularly important for those on night shift.
One has been installed near the Emergency Department staffroom and a second in our operating theatres.
Meals on offer include spaghetti bolognese, eggplant parmigiana, chicken and mushroom lasagne, and mushroom risotto. Or, if you’re feeling like something with a bit more spice, you could go for the coconut beef madras curry with pea puree. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are on offer as well.
There’s no longer any need to resort to a dinner of chips and chocolate on the run. And early next year, we hope to install sparkling water taps for staff.
Because healthier, happier clinicians provide better patient care.
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Scenes from our workshop at the recent Australasian Doctors' Health Conference. We take ourselves very seriously here in doctors' health as you can see...

#drshealthperth19
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Wonderful session learning about the fantastic benefits of having an inclusive-drop-in-no-experience-required-choir. As part of the MDOK program at RPA in Sydney. We got to sing too! 🎤 🎵 🎶

#drshealthqld19
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Our Medical Director, Dr Margaret Kay talking about being a doctor to doctor-patients at the #drshealthperth19 conference. ... See MoreSee Less

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Next week we will be in Perth for the Australasian Doctors Health Conference! Who is coming?

#drshealthperth19

ruralhealthwest.eventsair.com/2019-adhc/
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We need your help!

We often speak to doctors and medical students who did not realise that doctors health advisory services exist... and most importantly that we offer free and confidential support to doctors and medical students 24/7!

Please help us to spread the word - share our post with your friends and ask them to share too.

For more information go to: dhasq.org.au/
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