The high-stakes field of medicine expects physicians to be confident, competent, and well-equipped to handle the complexities of patient care. However, beneath this facade, many physicians wrestle with pervasive feelings of self-doubt. This phenomenon, known as imposter syndrome, is particularly common among high-achieving specialists who cannot internalize their accomplishments despite their outward success.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome’s leading characteristic is a chronic sense of intellectual fraudulence that overrides external proof of competence. Many people dismiss their professional accomplishments, attributing them to luck, timing, or the ability to deceive others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

Leading symptoms of imposter syndrome in physicians include:

Imposter Syndrome and Behavioral Health Issues

Though imposter syndrome does not meet the DSM-5-TR criteria for a mental illness, it still involves distorted thinking patterns that can lead to significant emotional distress. Many of its symptoms mirror those of diagnosable mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Physicians experiencing imposter syndrome may feel isolated, which can exacerbate the situation.

The intense pressure and constant self-doubt associated with imposter syndrome can push physicians in high-stress careers toward unhealthy coping mechanisms, including substance use. Addiction can begin as an attempt to self-medicate the emotional upheaval that often accompanies distressing feelings of inadequacy. You may gravitate toward drugs or alcohol to temporarily ease your unfounded worries of being a fraud or pretender.

Using substances to cope with imposter syndrome is particularly harmful because it can lead to a cycle of dependence and addiction, further impacting your mental health and professional life. Ultimately, drugs and alcohol obscure the underlying issues instead of helping you confront and address the root causes of your anxiety, stress, or depression.

How The Practice Helps

At The Practice, we recognize the unique pressures physicians face in their careers and offer specialized resources to address imposter syndrome and its associated challenges.

Find Our Private Sanctuary

Imposter syndrome can be a deeply ingrained issue, particularly in careers that demand high levels of competition and stress. At The Practice, we provide a confidential, supportive environment where you can begin reclaiming your life.

We believe every healer deserves a sanctuary where they can confront, address, and overcome the unique challenges that impact their professional goals. Connect with us today to learn how you can rebuild and return to your career with newfound vigor, purpose, and joy.