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Deferral for anxiety and depression

M_Miller101

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May 21, 2020
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Hi everyone! I was admitted to a medical school this cycle, but I have recently been going through a bout of pretty bad depression and anxiety. I was hoping it would subside, but I am worried about starting in the fall. Have any of you had any experience with deferring for these types of reasons? If so, did you fully disclose your mental health related issues?
 
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Mass Effect

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I would just start. Your issues may get better with new experiences in med school. I was a bit sad before starting residency because my girlfriend dumped me, but my life changed considerably over my first year and now I'm pretty happy. Don't disclose your mental issues to your school; I wouldn't want my school or future employer developing preconceptions of myself and using that against me for whatever reason. I know it shouldn't happen but that's how the world works.

Being sad is different from depression and anxiety. Starting while dealing with depression and anxiety could very well lead to taking a leave of absence, which will follow you for the rest of your career on ERAS and licensing applications where you'll have to explain why you had to take a leave.

Best to just defer now, get things in order with the help of a mental health professional, and start school healthy and ready. That way no one will know what was going on.

And again don't disclose. Tell your school you have family obligations or something.
 
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deleted915325

Do you think this has to do with COVID and isolation, or is this a recurring issue? I know a lot of people who are generally very stable but have been experiencing significant mental struggles because of covid. If it is related to covid, I say go ahead and push through it because this will all be over relatively soon. If it is deeper than that, deferring may be better
 
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Oedipa Maas

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Do you think this has to do with COVID and isolation, or is this a recurring issue? I know a lot of people who are generally very stable but have been experiencing significant mental struggles because of covid. If it is related to covid, I say go ahead and push through it because this will all be over relatively soon. If it is deeper than that, deferring may be better

What if OP was accepted in NY? It might not be over “relatively soon” for everyone. What if there are multiple waves of this? What if we can’t develop a vaccine in a timely fashion? What if antibodies don’t confer meaningful immunity for a meaningful length of time? Part of me wishes that all of my first and second year were online but others may find that isolating which could exacerbate issues. Why rush? Mass Effect is right on the money with this one. Not only would you be setting yourself up to have to take a leave of absence to explain on ERAS but you would be taking on more debt with interest accruing during that time.
 
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deleted915325

What if OP was accepted in NY? It might not be over “relatively soon” for everyone. What if there are multiple waves of this? What if we can’t develop a vaccine in a timely fashion? What if antibodies don’t confer meaningful immunity for a meaningful length of time? Part of me wishes that all of my first and second year were online but others may find that isolating which could exacerbate issues. Why rush? Mass Effect is right on the money with this one. Not only would you be setting yourself up to have to take a leave of absence to explain on ERAS but you would be taking on more debt with interest accruing during that time.

There's a lot of "what ifs." I'm just offering up one perspective. Not trying to argue. I don't think OP is looking for a debate here--just input
 

Mass Effect

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I won't claim to know what you're going through, but in my experience these are things that don't "subside". It requires a lot of work to improve mental health.
Whether it's through seeing a psychiatrist, or just managing your symptoms non-pharmacologically (i.e. daily exercise, sleep hygiene, socialization, healthy eating habits), you have to take the first step to get your symptoms under control.
If this is situational, like a death in the family or caring for someone with an illness, it makes more sense to wait for the situation to resolve. But if this is a flareup of chronic, underlying depression and anxiety, I don't think it makes as much sense anymore.
But I think you need to think about what's going to change a year from now. Do you have a plan to work on your mental health? Is that something you can't implement between now and the start of M1? Or are you just going to hope that your symptoms spontaneously resolve by next year?

I don't know what that means. What doesn't make as much sense anymore?
 

Mass Effect

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I personally don't think it makes sense to just wait and wish upon a star for a year. Surviving the rigors of med school is a problem OP is going to have to tackle at some point.

No said anything about wishing upon a star. But starting med school while struggling with depression and anxiety is unlikely to end well.
 
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Oedipa Maas

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I personally don't think it makes sense to just wait and wish upon a star for a year. Surviving the rigors of med school is a problem OP is going to have to tackle at some point.
Yeah and if it were me I would want that point to be when all health issues were under control and managed by a healthcare professional.

Personally I think deferment and LOA are the type of things where if you have to ask “if you should”, you likely already suspect the answer is yes...
 
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ACSurgeon

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Depends on severity. OP makes it seem more than just cold feet. OP should know best if this is a minor episode or major, first time or recurrent.

this has been said many times before on SDN: medical school and residency will often times break people with no previous mental health issues. It’s a very long marathon and not one you can “power through”.

It’s one thing to have to your first major “episode” halfway through med school with a ton of debt. It’s a different thing when you have not started yet. I would caution anyone with moderate to severe mental health issues from embarking on this path and to have a mental health professional and some contingency plans in place including an existing strategy if need be. it’s easy to define yourself with your career once in med school, and easy to feel stuck. Not a good place to be with severe depression/anxiety or other issues.
 
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