Who doesn't love animals? Most of us even have pets at home and to be honest, haven't we all thought of veterinarians' jobs as the best jobs in the world? However, turns out appearances can be deceiving. As per a new study, people who work with animals and at animal shelters are at a greater risk of depression.
“People who work or volunteer with animals are often drawn to it because they see it as a personal calling. However, they are faced with animal suffering and death on a routine basis, which can lead to burnout, compassion fatigue and mental health issues,” said Angela K. Fournier from Bemidji State University in the US.
In fact, the research found that veterinarians were at a particularly high risk of committing suicide and from 1979 to 2015, vets died by suicide two to 3.5 times more often than the general public of the entire United States. Now, if that isn't alarming, we don't know what is. The research also suggests that vets may display signs of depression but those are common like the ones most people suffer from. Some added symptoms might be increased medical errors, absenteeism and client complaints.
What happens is that people are not trained well enough to deal with so many emotions that they face while working in an animal shelter. On one hand, these people are tasked with caring for these animals and then, on the other hand, they're the ones tasked with ending the animals' lives. This can take a huge toll on one's mental health and can lead to significant guilt. Ultimately, the guilt can lead to anxiety, depression and other family and mental health-related issues.
"Animal welfare agents may also hear gruesome stories of animal abuse or witness the consequences firsthand when they are rehabilitating the animals, which can cause a lot of distress and lead to compassion fatigue,” Fournier said.