Advice - Medical School Depression

ericdamiansean

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    Hi there! I know it's kinda a hard for someone who hasn't been through real depression to give you advice, though I'm sure almost every medical student would have been through 'that time' where we felt depressed, lonely,sad etc and that hope is far away.
    I guess the best way would be to talk to people, go back to your town,meet up with some old buddies and talk to them, talk to someone who inspires you, i guess talking helps alot by bringing things out. I'm assuming you are a guy right? If you are, from a guy to another guy, times like these, it's best to bring down our defense barriers and talk things out.
    I've been through the situation where I moved from my school to another school to continue my studies. It was a new environment, not many of my classmates or schoolmates spoke english, and I had to adjust. And I had to spend about 2 years there. I coped by just making friends with them, but when I really needed moral support and help, I went back to my old friends and since they were far away, we communicated by online communities and that helped.
    Another way would be to ask yourself if you have any interest in community work, for example, if you like working with children, why don't you spend the time during your break working with them at an orphanage, or home? Hopefully, this would perhaps help you cope and give you some amount of motivation.
    Drinking doesn't solve any problems, it never has, so I guess it's best to stop. Try paint ball fights, boxing, or some other sort of activity where you can get your aggression/emotions out in a positive way
    All the best!
     

    Mr Reddly

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      I can't be much help. It sound very similar to my fresh / soph year(s) of undergrad. Your comments are bringing back memories. If I can ask, where are you from, where was undergrad, and where are you now? (don't have to be specific if you don't want to be)
       
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      Mr Reddly

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        They probably won't. I was just wondering if the OP was from the US and going to med in another country, from another country and going in the US, or from the west cost and going to med on the east coast... The OP said "far away from home". I wondering how far. But basically just a curiosity on my part due to my comment about my undergrad experience.
         

        aydinhatemi

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          When I am depressed I just read the following poem. It makes me a stronger person.

          Invictus

          OUT of the night that covers me,
          Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
          I thank whatever gods may be
          For my unconquerable soul.

          In the fell clutch of circumstance
          I have not winced nor cried aloud.
          Under the bludgeonings of chance
          My head is bloody, but unbowed.

          Beyond this place of wrath and tears
          Looms but the Horror of the shade,
          And yet the menace of the years
          Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

          It matters not how strait the gate,
          How charged with punishments the scroll,
          I am the master of my fate:
          I am the captain of my soul.
           

          omores

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            Originally posted by ericdamiansean
            Another way would be to ask yourself if you have any interest in community work, for example, if you like working with children, why don't you spend the time during your break working with them at an orphanage, or home? Hopefully, this would perhaps help you cope and give you some amount of motivation.
            I think this is a great idea. Just to expand on it, maybe you could spend some time working in a medical clinic to remind yourself of why you wanted to become a doctor in the first place. The people who tell you that you need to experience third year before you make a decision to bail are right: at my school, most people loved it when they got out of the classroom and into their rotations (not every minute of it, but overall). Those that didn't love it either left or decided to go into research. What would help in the meantime is working in a medical environment to give yourself a preview.

            Also, of course, you've got to get your depression under control -- you need to be in a receptive state for that clinic work to mean anything. StudentX has already written a good post about this, so I won't restate it...
             

            Kalel

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              Originally posted by Vdawg
              What is everyone's advice?

              My situtation is this - I am a medical student that moved far away from home to come to school in a completely new environment with pretty much no support system. I made a lot of friends in school but nothing that is really meaningful. I have felt that almost all of the people I meet in the medical setting have been very motivated and self-centered. Good people that mean well but I have had a tough time adjusting etc I think. I have went into depression and am taking a year off. But my question is this - what should I do? I thought about transferring but I don't know if that will cure anything, maybe its just prolonging or looking for a way out of my problems. I always wanted to do medicine and feel that I am doing it for the right reasons, a lot of people feel I shouldn't bail out of the field until I reach 3rd year to decide. But the problem is my motivation is non-existent. I drank a lot (recently cut back big time) but I recently developed a gambling problem. I don't find enjoyment in things I used to anymore. My school has been very supportive of working on my issues but they have a time line in place such that I can't take any more years off really. I feel that I havn't learned the material thus far and will need to spend this summer to learn it. Please just throw out your comments, etc if you have time/advice for me.

              That definitely sounds like depression. Your preclinical years are very different then your clinical years, if you have always wanted to do medicine, don't let 2 yrs of studying dissuade you from reaching your goal. I assume that you are a first year from your post, and I would just say that the amount of material that you are expected to retain from first year for the USMLE is minimal, and it's even less for clinical purposes. The first step thing you should do is to schedule a meeting at your student counseling center, counseling and medication may help you cope with your situation. Good luck!
               

              Gauss

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                advice:
                sex
                drugs
                rock and roll

                now for a med student interpretation:
                excessive masturbation
                lots of BEER!
                listen to punk

                yes it sucks
                it gets better at times, but I still am not impressed even in the clinical years
                hopefully you'll get attendings that are inspiring, funny, and compassionate. then you'll know you aren't alone
                 

                Varblade

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                  Stress.. one of those emotions which will completely dumb you down when ur feeling it.. i guess.. the best thing is to see a proffesional and deal with it the proper way..
                  of course.. u can also try this.. a modified approach of NLP

                  a) Think of whatever that is bothering you, and write it down on a piece of paper. U have to actually do this for it to work, but trust me its magic.

                  b) Describe every problem u have in detail, whatever that is bothering you

                  c) For each problem, draw a stick man cartoon depicting it

                  d) Take the problem-paper and let someone read it, comment bout it ( someone real close )

                  e) take the stick man drawings, hang it in your room

                  f) Finally, take the problem paper, and burn it , slowly, and feel as if ur problems WILL take care of itself

                  Of course you can modify the approach .. as much as you can ...

                  Varblade
                   

                  birdie

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                    I would suggest that you go see a physician to get professional help. I was very hesitant to do this, but SSRIs have changed my life. What many people don't understand is that clinical depression is a disorder just like diabetes or high bp. It involves a chemical imbalance which has to be treated. Once balance is restored, your mood will be much better.
                     

                    Discobolus

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                      I've been exactly where you are and I have to say it's tough, but it can get a lot better. I slipped into some pretty major depression during the course of my first semester of medical school. Looking back I can see that I've had a baseline amount of depression for quite a while, but it took the stress of medical school for it to really come out. The first block was O.K. and I pulled off decent grades but it gradually got worse and I failed gross anatomy and barely passed microanatomy. I was badly failing my second semester courses when I finally decided to go to student mental health. I took a leave of absence soon after to get myself back together. I came back to school the next Fall and have done really well since then both depression wise and academically. I pulled a 3.5 GPA for the year and a 4.0 was definitely a possibility (my study habits are still not quite up to snuff :D ). I say none of this to brag but to illustrate that things can get better. Things are much better now. There is hope and I'm sure your situation will get better.

                      My advice would be to see Student Mental Health as soon as you can. See the psychiatrist every week if thats what it takes. Work with them on medication. Not everyone tolerates SSRI's well, I was one of them. Wellbutrin was worked wonders though.

                      Good luck.
                       

                      SaltySqueegee

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                        Damn, I've been feeling this way too, but was hesitant to post.

                        I just recently moved to the Ohio area from California, and only have my cat to talk to. Talk about depressing, she doesn't even understand!

                        But seriously, I have been feeling extremely lonely, and for the first time in my life I stopped to talk to the mail-man because I wanted some sort of human contact! Now I kind of know what elderly people feel like when they get put into an old folks home. ... maybe I could make some friends there...

                        ... But seriously I have no friends here and no family. Talking on the phone, and communicating electronically just doesn't cut it as much as I thought it would.

                        I am extremely lonely. ... ... Happy that I'm in Ohio to go to Med School, but extremely lonely. Definitely looking forward to Med School Orientation in August, and hoping to make some friends.

                        Any Toledo people wanna hang out over the summer?
                         

                        calcrew14

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                          Vdawg said:
                          What is everyone's advice?

                          I have went into depression and am taking a year off. But my question is this - what should I do?

                          Mr. Reddly has a good thought that you might be an international student. So I am wondering if this is just a simple homesick or medical school depression or some disorder. You probably have received professional help provided by your medical school already. Still, you can go ahead and vent here. It will help. Don't forget to keep in touch with those who are helping you now.
                          Good luck.
                           

                          jennie 21

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                            Try if you can to reach out to the friends you made at school and spend more time hanging out with them. I know this is probably the last thing you feel like doing right now if you're depressed but trust me once you do it you'll start to feel better. There's something about companionship and being around other people that lifts your mood and helps distract you from your problems, even if your friendships with these people are superficial human contact helps. Being alone is the worst thing when you're depressed...you'll just spiral down further into depression and lonliness. Get out and force yourself to keep busy, do things, see people, and be active. I have a mild tendency to get down and blue sometimes, and it is seriously exacerbated when I don't get out and see people and do things enough. As long as I see people, I'm sunny. The worst thing you can do is sit around in your pajamas all day in front of the TV or your computer and not talk to anybody or do anything productive...that would make anybody depressed. Even though that's probably what you feel like doing right now, fight it. Making the first step is the hardest. Exercise is good for your body and for your mind, and has been shown to lift depression almost as well as SSRIs (not that you shouldn't be taking SSRIs too--you probably should :) ). Social contact is good, and if you have good friends who you can talk to, talk to them. That can really help when you feel down to have someone to talk to. Mostly, try not to let yourself get isolated or to have too much free time on your hands with nothing to do. The volunteer work idea is a great one.
                             

                            Pathos

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                              Even though we are "Professionals" you have to give into your inner urges. I couldn't tell if you are a man or a woman, but you have to screw your worried thoughts away. Thats about the only damn thing that has kept me sane, having my girlfriend (who is not in med school). I know all too well what you mean about no "meaningful" relationships in med school. I think a majority of them probably intend well, but are not drinking buddies. Other than my gf, Mr. Southern Comfort has helped me out too.

                              To give you a more positive image about yourself, you might want to try to take up running or biking. It takes time and you gain physical health out of the deal and release all those cooped up endorphins. Careful at the slots, that is a hard habit to break, probably about as hard as smoking.

                              I play video/comp games instead of gambling b/c I can't lose money on those damn things.

                              Hope you weather the storm of med school. You didn't come this far to crap out, so keep your head up and keep moving forward. Best wishes. :sleep:
                               

                              gwyn779

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                                birdie said:
                                I would suggest that you go see a physician to get professional help. I was very hesitant to do this, but SSRIs have changed my life. What many people don't understand is that clinical depression is a disorder just like diabetes or high bp. It involves a chemical imbalance which has to be treated. Once balance is restored, your mood will be much better.
                                To the OP: By far, this is the best advice you can get.
                                If you haven't been to Student Health/Counselling, or whatever, yet, do it! That's what they're there for. All the good advice to "think positive" and self-help strategies won't do s*** for clinical depression. They can work really well for grief, minor adjustment probs, etc., but you can have everything in your life going well and still be clincally depressed. That's what meds are for. They're certainly not right for everybody, even everybody with clinical depression, but that's what psychiatrists are for: to figure out what will help YOU as an individual. Again, meds aren't the magic solution, but they'll give you the chance to actually benefit from cognitive and behavioral techniques.
                                 

                                dwightbean

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                                  Gauss said:
                                  advice:
                                  sex
                                  drugs
                                  rock and roll

                                  now for a med student interpretation:
                                  excessive masturbation
                                  lots of BEER!
                                  listen to punk

                                  yes it sucks
                                  it gets better at times, but I still am not impressed even in the clinical years
                                  hopefully you'll get attendings that are inspiring, funny, and compassionate. then you'll know you aren't alone


                                  cute.
                                   

                                  susannaQ

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                                    Vdawg said:
                                    What is everyone's advice?

                                    My situtation is this - I am a medical student that moved far away from home to come to school in a completely new environment with pretty much no support system. I made a lot of friends in school but nothing that is really meaningful. I have felt that almost all of the people I meet in the medical setting have been very motivated and self-centered. Good people that mean well but I have had a tough time adjusting etc I think. I have went into depression and am taking a year off.

                                    Don't worry about your school and its timeline: focus, focus, and focus (hopefully with the help of a psychologist and psychiatrist and a spiritual guide if you have one) on whats making you unhappy and then, only after that, see if you think you can get back to feeling balanced in time for their deadlines.

                                    You said "no support system". I'd say that is could be the root of the whole problem from the start and a major cause of concern. You should look into this. In short, you need people you feel you can truly, deep down trust to support you. Everyone depends on an outside support system to lean on when they feel unsteady. No one depends solely on inner strength. You need to feel loved and appreciated and that you can turn to others for help or else how else can you give so much of yourself in medical school learning about how to help others when you have so little for yourself?

                                    Hope this helps and hope you're feeling better.
                                     

                                    KatieOConnor

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                                      Wow, this was me in undergrad. I moved away from home for the first time and had no support system. I found the students at my school to be very self centered and driven, and they totally intimidated me. I also felt completely isolated geographically, as my school was quite rural. I sunk into what I realize now was a deep depression and started drinking a lot and then my grades slipped.

                                      I took time off from school to work and travel. My school was also really supportive. I slowly made new friends and adapted to the environment. Finally, I went on SSRIs. I feel like a cheat sometimes, but they've helped SO MUCH!!! I never thought I'd get to the point where I'm actually together enough to apply to medical school.

                                      Definitely see a psychiatrist or psychologist if it's financially feasible.

                                      Good luck!
                                       

                                      hunterpostbac

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                                        i can honestly say that SSRIs saved my life. about 7 years ago i was hospitalized for a major depressive episode which had brought on both anorexia and self-mutilation. at the time i didn't understand that my behavior was potentially fatal. i was so tired and irritable that i sometimes went for several days in a row without leaving my room or eating.

                                        people who have never been depressed sometimes think it's a flaw in character or that you just need to "snap out of it". this is certainly not the case. sometimes medication is the only way out.
                                         
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