By Janice Neumann, Special to the ChicagoTribune
December 14, 2011
After a stressful day of seeing sick and sometimes dying patients, Dr. Aaron Michelfelder doesn't reach for a beer to decompress. Instead, this family medicine doctor at Loyola University Medical Center opts for acupuncture or self-hypnosis.
While doctors are schooled in traditional Western medicine, a growing number like Michelfelder are turning to complementary and alternative medicine to stay healthy, then integrating the techniques into their medical practices. Michelfelder is board-certified in family medicine, acupuncture and medical hypnosis.
Alternative therapy also includes herb therapy, deep breathing, massage and yoga. Complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, combines the methods with traditional medicine.
Michelfelder, who is also associate professor of family medicine, bioethics and health policy at Loyola's Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, said in addition to their stressful profession, doctors often have anxious or obsessive personalities, which serve them well in their quest to heal but "can easily tip over into a health disorder or interfere with our lives," said Michelfelder. Sometimes they witness traditional health care gone wrong.
About 300 to 400 physicians commit suicide each year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, noted Michelfelder.
"Physicians really need strong coping mechanisms," said Michelfelder, who also uses herbal therapy and supplements and has gone for Reiki therapy, a Japanese technique that uses touch to reduce stress, and chiropractic treatment. "We see a lot of bad things," he said. More >