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Coping with depression in medical school

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by WhiteCoatSyndrome, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. WhiteCoatSyndrome

    WhiteCoatSyndrome 5+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    After seeing my family doc yesterday I've been diagnosed with mild depression. This is my second day of being on lexapro 10mg. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist in a month. I've felt really out of it and have had some really bad days mood wise. Having said that, I've managed to keep up with all of my responsibilities. I start med school in August and am worried about feeling how I do now while in med school. Has anyone been in a similar situation before? Is it reasonable to see significant improvement over the next 6 months or so? I know this is probably difficult to answer, but any advice/input would be appreciated. I can provide more info if needed.
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  3. mik30102

    mik30102 Pharmacist 5+ Year Member

    Oct 25, 2011
    We can't really give you medical advice but I will tell you ssris take about 4-6 weeks to see major changes. Are you depressed due to a lot of stress? Maybe you should go on a trip somewhere fun before medical school starts to relax if you have the time.
  4. NorthernMav

    NorthernMav 2+ Year Member

    Sep 26, 2013
    Have you tried frequent exercise? I know that when I am feeling depressed or having anxiety it does wonders. Also think about the fact that you got accepted into medical school and are going to be a doctor!
    bambam92, lobo12, ichor and 1 other person like this.
  5. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2013
    4th Dimension
    I don't have any advice, really, as even though I have dealt with depression, it is a very unique phenomenon for each individual. The hardest part for me was always wondering if it was possible that I would ever feel normal again, as I couldn't remember a genuinely happy period in my 20-some-odd years of living. One day, something just changed, it all just sort of faded away into nothing. Maybe I developed better coping skills, maybe it was a fundamental change in my neurochemistry, who knows. But for the past five years I've been pretty happy to content even on my worst of days. If nothing else, at least I can say that it's possible and even quite likely that you'll feel alright again someday. 70-80% of people's depression eventually subsides, so just hang in there as best you can.

    I wish you the best in dealing with this. Hopefully someone on here has some better advice for you.
    Affiche likes this.
  6. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2013
    4th Dimension

    Exercise is the best.
  7. WhiteCoatSyndrome

    WhiteCoatSyndrome 5+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    I've been under a lot of stress for the past couple months. I had an odd infection or something that caused a lot of brain fog and disorientation and I freaked out because I didn't know what was going on. I have anxiety issues that got out of control as a result and I've slowly been reeling them back in. Over that time I had problems sleeping and just felt crappy most days due to anxiety and lack of sleep. My sleeping isn't perfect but it's definitely improved, however, and my anxiety is better. There are definitely days where I just feel emotionally wrecked and hopeless due to the crap I put myself through the past couple months. I'm in the middle of a gap year and haven't been doing much since I got accepted. If this still is an issue come time for med school maybe having all my time used up will help the recovery process. Who knows?
  8. gumdrops

    gumdrops 2+ Year Member

    Jul 13, 2013
    I had a friend who took a year off in the middle of medical school due to depression. She said it was the best decision she made. Don't put any pressure on yourself "to get better" by a deadline. It'll likely exacerbate your depression instead. If you're not feeling better by summer with medication and therapy, it may be best to defer a year, sort yourself out and then start when you feel mentally and physically ready. Good luck.
    thisisansley likes this.
  9. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    As someone who has a number of students with mental health issues, I strongly suggest that you get a consult with a psychiatrist. If both s/he and your family doc think you can handle med school, then you should be OK.

    Keep in mind that medical school is a crucible.

  10. katiemaude

    katiemaude 7+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2010
    I'd suggest you treat it like any major illness or stressful life event - be extremely kind to yourself and go easy on the expectations. Lots of people say regular exercise is key for stress relief and for the endorphins. Eat a nutrient rich and balanced diet. Get enough sleep, and continue to do so after your start school. Make life as simple for yourself as possible and set yourself up for success... go with the apartment with a dishwasher, washer/dryer, easy parking and a close distance to the school. Schedule time for the things that give you a lift, whether it is spending time with friends, calling family, getting out in nature, etc. Everyone says med school is a grind (and I fully expect it to be), but if you can't make time for what keeps you healthy because you think you need to study more and skip sleep/exercise/whatever, you won't be at your best.
  11. DrCharlemagne

    DrCharlemagne Old Maid in Training 7+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2010
    For what it's worth, I'm facing a similar issue. Mental disorders run in my family, so it's something I'll likely be coping with the rest of my life. With that frame in mind, please remember that yes, you can improve in 6 months, but that progress won't be linear and it probably won't be permanent. Be prepared to fall off the wagon again and again, and make sure you are aware of what resources are available to you within your school should the fog creep back up again. That being said, please don't despair. Spend the next few months figuring out how you care for you when your mind is plaguing itself; in my case watching my calorie intake and exercising can be life savers, but so can a tv marathon and a simple knitting project.

    An admissions committee stacked with professionals decided you were worth investing in, so trust in their judgement that you're strong enough to handle this. Ultimately I think experiencing a chronic health problem like this could augment your practice and give you insight into why your patients or co-workers aren't functioning 100% all the time.
  12. WhiteCoatSyndrome

    WhiteCoatSyndrome 5+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2010
    I definitely think this whole situation was stress driven. I have obsessive anxiety that snowballed to the point that I kind of lost myself a couple months ago. For what it's worth, I've been moving forward since then and the largest hurdle was recognizing that my anxiety was to blame. I've never been in this situation before, so a lot of the physical and mental problems my anxiety was causing me I had never experienced before. Now that I know what the issue is I have been able to take steps in the right direction, although some days are worse. Today I woke up and felt like a cloud had been lifted off of me and that I had woken up to reality again. Definitely the best I've felt since this all started. Hopefully it continues to only get better.
    wgzmb, rellak and Elewynne like this.

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