Anyone else suffering from depression who is currently studying for the MCAT?

Luckygirlsadheart

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Hi Everyone,

So I had cancelled my MCAT and my dream plans of becoming a doctor due to depression around June of last year. Depression stopped me in my tracks. I took a much easier course load the following semester, graduated, and I have now been working for the past 7 months or so. A year and a bit later, I'm feeling strong enough to study. I think. I'm in a better place now but I am still very vulnerable. Any tips to overcome my depression enough to gain the confidence and strength to study for the MCAT, and to overcome a depressive episode in the midst of studying?

Thank you!
Luckygirlsadheart
 

Ismet

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Nope, so over that. I'm trying to get better on my own - no meds, no therapy. I've tried both and both don't work. I'm just trying my best to be strong!
Try seeing a different doctor/therapist. Clinical depression isn't something you can get over by thinking happy thoughts. Maybe whatever you tried in the past didn't work, but that doesn't mean meds/therapy won't work at all for you. This forum is not for medical advice so that's really all I'm going to get into. There's really no tips for "avoiding a depressive episode" except for getting professional help, which SDN cannot provide.
 
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Luckygirlsadheart

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Try seeing a different doctor/therapist. Clinical depression isn't something you can get over by thinking happy thoughts. Maybe whatever you tried in the past didn't work, but that doesn't mean meds/therapy won't work at all for you. This forum is not for medical advice so that's really all I'm going to get into. There's really no tips for "avoiding a depressive episode" except for getting professional help, which SDN cannot provide.
I wasn't looking for medical advice, more like practical study tips. For example, when you get stressed, study something easy. I just made that up, but that's basically what I'm looking for. How to work my hours, how to manage my time, what to do on breaks, etc.
 

StudyLater

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Hi Everyone,

So I had cancelled my MCAT and my dream plans of becoming a doctor due to depression around June of last year. Depression stopped me in my tracks. I took a much easier course load the following semester, graduated, and I have now been working for the past 7 months or so. A year and a bit later, I'm feeling strong enough to study. I think. I'm in a better place now but I am still very vulnerable. Any tips to overcome my depression enough to gain the confidence and strength to study for the MCAT, and to overcome a depressive episode in the midst of studying?

Thank you!
Luckygirlsadheart
Get into a very dangerous situation where you are almost killed. Realize afterward the sanctity of life.

Relapse into depression ~2-3 months later when the monotony of daily life has sufficiently chipped away at the revelation. By this time you will have studied fully.
 

Ismet

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I wasn't looking for medical advice, more like practical study tips. For example, when you get stressed, study something easy. I just made that up, but that's basically what I'm looking for. How to work my hours, how to manage my time, what to do on breaks, etc.
You literally asked for tips to overcome your depression so that you can study.......

As for practical tips:

Take frequent breaks. I have a horrible attention span so I take a 5-10 min break each hour of studying. Walk a bit, get a drink, watch a YouTube vid...whatever works for you. If you find that you're not focusing, do something else for a while and come back to it.

And get enough sleep.
 

theonlytycrane

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I hope you're feeling better and stronger these days :)

I usually feel tired of studying / worn out by 6-7 p.m. and I try to take a hour break to run or get in the gym. It takes away from study time but I always feel refreshed and mentally better after doing so.

Do you have a method of stress relief?
 

NotASerialKiller

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As @Ismet pointed out the kind of help that you need directly relates to depression and your personal life. It's not a matter of studying more efficiently, it's about managing emotions with a mental disorder. You are not the only one dealing with this by any means, but there is very little potential for someone to come along and say "Oh if you suffer from depression you just have to do Z to get through study sessions".

Respect your limitations and don't wreck yourself over this. The better off you are mentally the better (and more easily) you will perform on everything.
 
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StudyLater

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I lost many, many nights of sleep telling myself "holy **** my entire 21 years of life up until this point has lead up to this 4 hour exam, and my performance on this test will determine if I can actually follow through on the dreams I've had since I was a child." Those are very negative and self-defeating thoughts. Good luck OP :)
I don't know. If anything, this thought process helped me to laugh off how ridiculous the whole thing was.
 
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Sep 6, 2015
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22 year old dude here and I always listen to T Swift when I'm studying (stop laughing) and it always makes studying better. On a serious note, the fact that you're in a position to be thinking about taking the MCAT and applying to med school means you are intelligent and hardworking enough to have made it this far.
 

moisne

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So if you can will power your way out of clinical depression... I don't see how you can't willpower your way through mcat studying....
 
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The mcat is important but I feel people on this site play it up to be something it isn't. It is not the end all be all, it's just an exam, an important one be it. Study hard and you will do well. As others have mentioned though, it concerns me that studying for this exam is giving you depression. I would suggest seeing a healthcare professional.
 

mimelim

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I wasn't looking for medical advice, more like practical study tips. For example, when you get stressed, study something easy. I just made that up, but that's basically what I'm looking for. How to work my hours, how to manage my time, what to do on breaks, etc.
The best practical study tip is to get plugged into a psychiatrist and therapist that you trust. Everything thing else is individualized and not connected to your depression. If depression had a large enough impact to cause you to rearrange your career track, it should be monitored closely. Never mind medical advice, it is common sense and a very practical study tip.
 

tenblackalps

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I wasn't looking for medical advice, more like practical study tips. For example, when you get stressed, study something easy. I just made that up, but that's basically what I'm looking for. How to work my hours, how to manage my time, what to do on breaks, etc.
When you study, focus on appreciating the material and enjoying all the knowledge that you are putting together. I felt that in way mays, studying for the MCAT was the culmination of my undergrad years, all of those years of pre-reqs. When I sat down to take the test, it was like I had finished scaling the mountain and was about to (hopefully) plant a flag on the peak.
 
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Goro

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Medical school is a crucible and I've seen it break even healthy students. So listen to the good advice you're getting here.


Nope, so over that. I'm trying to get better on my own - no meds, no therapy. I've tried both and both don't work. I'm just trying my best to be strong!
 

NotWayneBrady

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Been here. Chose the same route as you, and to this day regret not getting professional help.

Get set up with a good therapist, they save lives.
 

lalex

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As someone with severe anxiety (and depression because of it), I would say attempt to study without making it you're number one priority. I dedicated this summer tpo is and failed miserably. Give it a test run..
 

Gauss44

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My thoughts:

1. Find a way to be proud of yourself. Acknowledge any positive traits you have in regards to the test and actions you have taken.
2. Find quotes that make you feel good and that remind you of anything you might want to be reminded of. Hang them where you will see them.
3. I placed objects from people who have inspired me or cared about me on my desk to remind me that I am not alone despite how studying so much can feel.
4. Joined a study group with supportive people.
5. Studied in a place full of other studious people, again to remind myself that I am not alone.
6. Studied in places that reminded me of the rewards of hard work which was motivating.
7. Acknowledge that a soul, and a person's emotional essence, needs to be fed. Find a way to look forward to something or to bring even a little happiness into your life.
8. Remember that your story is far from over, and that many of the most successful people today, once had great failures or very trying times, even depression.

This may or may not depend on what's fueling the depression. If it were me, I would try to inspect the roots of that and find ways to counteract it. The ways would depend on the roots/causes for me.
 
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JuanPabloCastel

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Had pretty bad anxiety which lead to depersonalization/derealization the semester I was studying for the MCAT. Don't think you an tough mental illness out. I mean, maybe you can, but your life will be hell. Try to find a good therapist.
 

Gauss44

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Based on what was said in the OP, and some of the comments on here, I might add one more thought:

This is a situation where I would make a distinction between biological depression (due to a malfunction in the body) and situational depression (due to events in one's life). I would also distinguish those from sadness, grief, etc. If you are, in fact, dealing with situational depression, I would first try helping oneself (which it sounds like you are trying to do), second seek help from your supportive network of friends and possibly family, etc., and if all else fails, then I would consider talk therapy (regular counseling) BEFORE considering any medication. And if, medication were considered, I would want to know (if I were in your position) if it is addictive (what is it like to come off the medication if you can), what the side effects are, and if it has any medium or long term effects. Medication can be serious business.

A colleague once insensitively said, "Well-to-do people get talk therapy. We just drug the poor people." I would save medicine as a last resort for situational depression, unless it only has short term effects.
 

futuremdforme

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I wasn't looking for medical advice, more like practical study tips. For example, when you get stressed, study something easy. I just made that up, but that's basically what I'm looking for. How to work my hours, how to manage my time, what to do on breaks, etc.
Within this scope:

Give yourself rewards for studying. If you study x hours /day, you get to watch your favourite TV show. If you study 5 days/week, you get to see a movie. Basically save the fun stuff for after you have finished studying.

I completely agree with everyone else to get help for the depression. You'll still deal with this issue in med school, and postponing tests will not be possible aside from a LOA.
 
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RaspberrySlushy

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I think the first order of business, as others have said, is to find a good therapist/psychiatrist/etc. Keep looking until you find one. Therapists have so many different approaches and styles (something you will read a bit about while studying for the new MCAT) so there is bound to someone, something, that works for you.

Don't try to go it alone. And I'm not saying that because of depression (though I'm sure this prob holds true for that too) more because this isn't an easy road and social support is crucial for all of us as humans and will prob get more important as this road to medicine continues. Personally this was really important to have in my MCAT studying. For some it will be family, for me it was good friends, it could be coworkers, etc. I think ppl have a tendency to get so wrapped in studying that they neglect to reach out and that could be isolating. There is a way to find a balance between saying no to doing other things when you need to study and saying yes to certain things so that you stay connected and don't get isolated.

The most important thing is to take care of yourself, because you'll need to do that during med school, residency, life, when there's even more pressure. I don't mean to sound preachy or anything though I'm sure it may come off that way online. I just think having some plans in place and addressing the mental health issues is the most important thing, and will prob result in better MCAT studying and even a better score.

Exercise! I took a PE class or two during my MCAT studying and it was a huge help physically and mentally and helped break up all the sitting and studying. Having an exercise class to go to kept me motivated and accountable.

On a much less serious note, I totally agree about listening to T Swift while studying! Just makes everything better.
 
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