Edison

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2005
34
0
Status
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
 
OP
E

Edison

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 8, 2005
34
0
Status
Am I one of the rare ones who's taking antidepressants while in med school? By studying med, am I setting myself up for disaster? :( Anyone actually did well in med school while taking SSRI?

It's impossible to discuss this with classmates as people don't tend to talk about these things in public. :(

sigh....
 

mzeroapplicant

Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2006
53
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Edison said:
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
I think some of the long-term studies that have been done recently have begun to show that therapy is more effective in the long term than medication. This isn't to say that you shouldn't use medication if it helps you (you definitely should) but that seeing a therapist at least once a week is probably a good way to begin to overcome this illness.
 
About the Ads

silas2642

silas2642
10+ Year Member
Jul 24, 2005
2,283
15
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I would think that clinical depression among medical students is fairly common; if I remember correctly, 20% of the general population will experience at least one episode of major depression in their lifetime. Factor in a stressful lifestyle... My opinion is that there is still stigma against people with mental illness and the general perception, even within the medical community, who should definitely know better, is that these people are weaker. Doctors seem to generally be seen as a group of people who are incredibly smart and infallible. Hopefully this perception is changing and will continue to change.

There are other options out there for treating depression; although I must admit I have never heard of anyone complain of a worsening memory with the treatment of depression. There are a ton of medications out there; maybe you should inquire about trying a different class. TCAs are incredibly effective, although they tend to cause sedation, MAOI's sometimes work when nothing else will, although you do have a lot of dietary and medication restrictions. There is also mirtazapine and a bunch of other meds that may work better for you.

One question to ask yourself is whether or not this memory loss is a direct result of the medication or due to some untreated depression. The other thing to consider is the fact that medical school is much harder than undergraduate work, and perhaps you just feel as if you've experienced memory loss when in fact you're just cramming a ton of information in your brain.

Good luck to you, I hope everything works out.
 

njbmd

Guest
Moderator Emeritus
5+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 30, 2001
9,050
146
Gone Walkabout!
Visit site
Status
Attending Physician
Edison said:
Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :(
Hi there,
You have more medical school ahead of you than behind you so do not give up on anything. A question for you, if you were diabetic and having trouble managing your disease wouldn't you seek an adjustment to see if you could alleviate the problem? Why not take the summer and see if some adjustments can be made to help you manage your depression? If not, you still are not out of anything as far as your career is concerned.

You finished first year but you have second year (much more important to boards) and you have third year (more important for residency) so you have some time to make any adjustments that you need to up your performance. You also have boards ahead of you too so don't give up. You may find that you can perform very well during third year because the learning style is very different from first and second year.

I have seen many people have a rough time adjusting to medical school for a many different reasons only to work things out and finish strong. I know that you have a very, VERY difficult situation to deal with but don't count yourself out. You DID manage to get through first year and that's an accomplishment in itself. Use your summer to re-tool and investigate anything that might help you for next year.

njbmd :)

P.S. I had a couple of classmates who took anti-depressants for clinical depression. It was tough for them at times but they all made it though and they all are in residencies that they love. I wish you the best in getting this under control so you can get on with your career.
 

stargirl50

Member
10+ Year Member
Dec 1, 2004
209
0
Status
Fellow [Any Field]
Edison said:
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
I just finished my M1 year too. I take seizure medicine that affects my memory/thinking.

I'm not saying that your medication isn't affecting your ability to do well in school, but I know that for me I realized that it was becoming an all-too-convenient excuse. The first year of med school requires a lot of adjustment. I had to learn to adapt and quit blaming my medicine. If your medication works well for your depression, that's great! You're fortunate that you found something that works for you. But only YOU can decide if you are using its cognitive side effects as a crutch or if they are truly so bad that you will need to go through the hassle of switching meds again. You might be able to talk to student affairs to see if you can get extended time on exams, if that's an issue for you.

Good luck! :thumbup:
 

MD2b20004

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2003
365
0
40
Visit site
Status
Edison said:
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
From experience, YES some anti-depresent and anti-anxiety medications can mess with your memory and heck sometimes give you more side effects than your symptoms. Try to stay at the lowest dose possible to function and always communicate with your physician about your concerns. There are plenty of drugs out there and its all trial and error in pychiatry in what drug works for you and in what dosage, its not like a tumor where an X-Ray can detect the source and you have a method to eliminate the illness (if possible). SSRIs are tricky drugs, they do wonders on you, but do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor, and I know how it feels to keep trying different drugs that take 2 months to kick in just to find out they are not helping and in some instances hurting you more. If you feel like it is to the point that you can not progress, take a year of absence and take care of your health. Without good health you wont doing yourself or anyone any favor. Good Luck :thumbup:
 

chagall

Junior Member
10+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2006
136
0
Status
Yes, med students with depression definitely do exist. I have a similar problem now with side effects of an SSRI, mainly sleepiness, but I've realized I have to keep taking it (and I've tried many different meds over the years).

But you'd be amazed at what can be possible even though things may look bad now. I had ECT treatments during-- yes, during-- my M1 year-- talk about memory problems! But I ended up finishing M2 with almost all honors. And a question showed up on my boards about a medication used during anesthesia for ECT-- so I guess everything has a way of coming full circle.

Hang in there, and PM me if you like.
 

xlithiumx

10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2004
368
34
Status
I have what my physician described as a mild dysthymia, which I understand is different from a major depressive episode. My main symptoms were anhedonia, easy frustration, and emotional lability. I take Prozac 20mg once daily and I have been completely controlled. I got this diagnosis in the summer before my MS1 and I had a great 1st year. I honored or passed all of my classes and am sitting in the top 40% of the class, give or take. So, I think a person definitely can handle medical school with a mood disorder on the depressive spectrum of things.

Do your best.
 

MD2b20004

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2003
365
0
40
Visit site
Status
dbaldes said:
I have what my physician described as a mild dysthymia, which I understand is different from a major depressive episode. My main symptoms were anhedonia, easy frustration, and emotional lability. I take Prozac 20mg once daily and I have been completely controlled. I got this diagnosis in the summer before my MS1 and I had a great 1st year. I honored or passed all of my classes and am sitting in the top 40% of the class, give or take. So, I think a person definitely can handle medical school with a mood disorder on the depressive spectrum of things.

Do your best.
BTW with those taking anti-anxiety, anti-depressent drugs, what medications are you on and what dosage, it may help others in easing the way of trying drug A, B, C and Y to finally get to Z. For me my Dr. tryed EVERYTHING for 2 years until I feel like, not perfect, horrible side effects mainly sleepiness. But for my GAD and seizures, I take 4mg of Xanax, 30mg of Prozac, and 45mg of Mitrazapene ( or how ever u spell it, its a new one to the list). I take them all at night because they make me too sleepy if taken in the morning to function. My doc says it doesnt matter when you take them, example before bed or when you first wake up, it has the same (whats suppose to be positive) effect on your health.
 

MD2b20004

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2003
365
0
40
Visit site
Status
Edison said:
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
Found the OP's post to be extremely useful to future MDs and also allows others to share their experiences, so decided to give it a BUMP :thumbup:
OK last bump, I promise.
 

starwisher

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Oct 21, 2005
66
0
Status
Medical Student
Edison said:
How common is it?

Is it even possible to do well in med school when one is taking antidepressants?

Before I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and being prescribed antidepressants, I did exceptionally well academically. However, having started on the pills and finally settled with ones that work for me (it's taken over 2 years), I found that my memory has deteriorated a whole lot, I get mentally fatigued far more easily, and I have lots of psycho-somatic complaints (mostly unexplainable headaches).

Sadly, I finished my M1 year with a 66%. :( (average is mid-70s) I think I can already say goodbye to the more competitive residencies. :( :( :(

Anyone has similar experiences and is willing to share? Any strategies to combat this illness? I've already had 2 relapses and the doc told me that I'll probably have to take the SSRI for the rest of my life. :(
I've run into several classmates that have had dysthymia, major depression, GAD, social phobia, or biplar disorder along with some that have needed therapy but never were diagnosed with anything. You are right that for the most part it is a really difficult subject to talk about with other med students, even if they are really good friends. I've suffered from dysthymia probably since sometime in high school and have had several bouts of major depression (including a psychiatric hospitalization and having to take time off of school). I've been in therapy since sometime in 2002 and have been on several antidepressants during that time (including prozac while I was studying for the boards because my doctor was afraid I'd relapse because of the stress) and I never experienced any major side effects, but I never found them all that helpful. I prefer therapy to antidepressants for my own treatment, and I'll probably remain in therapy at least until I finish med school, although it is a b!tch to schedule regular appointments around your clerkship requirements. I've found my school to be very understanding about my mental health issues, so I highly recommend being open about your need for treatment to at least your dean if you ever feel like small, reasonable accomodations would help you to maintain your health and get through school more effectively.
 

stoic

"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted"
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2000
7,628
340
sodom, south georgia
i can't even count the number of med students/physicians i know who are on psych meds of one kind or another (myself included).

you are certainly not alone. it's a tough process that challenges the coping skills of even the most well adjusted and chemically balanced.

if humans had truly evolved to live during this day and age, i'm fairly certain we'd have a enzyme producing lexapro.
 

MD2b20004

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2003
365
0
40
Visit site
Status
starwisher said:
I've run into several classmates that have had dysthymia, major depression, GAD, social phobia, or biplar disorder along with some that have needed therapy but never were diagnosed with anything. You are right that for the most part it is a really difficult subject to talk about with other med students, even if they are really good friends. I've suffered from dysthymia probably since sometime in high school and have had several bouts of major depression (including a psychiatric hospitalization and having to take time off of school). I've been in therapy since sometime in 2002 and have been on several antidepressants during that time (including prozac while I was studying for the boards because my doctor was afraid I'd relapse because of the stress) and I never experienced any major side effects, but I never found them all that helpful. I prefer therapy to antidepressants for my own treatment, and I'll probably remain in therapy at least until I finish med school, although it is a b!tch to schedule regular appointments around your clerkship requirements. I've found my school to be very understanding about my mental health issues, so I highly recommend being open about your need for treatment to at least your dean if you ever feel like small, reasonable accomodations would help you to maintain your health and get through school more effectively.
What medications do you take and what dosage worked for you the best. I always try to minimize my dosages to avoid the horrible side effects like being EXTRA TIRED and LOSING MEMORY or having CONFUSTION. I mean it sucks when every bottle you have says do not drive or operate machinary when taking this medicine. BTW I heard if you get pulled over and the cop found out that you were on some type of drug that has that warning label of "do not drive or operate machinary " you can get a ticket for driving under the influence of drugs. Heck didn't that Senator get charged for driving under the influence of drugs when he crashed his car when he was on Ambien... It is so difficult for those of us who have to deal with the illness, the fustration it causes, the limitation and obstacles it puts you through and the time it takes from you. But again, everyone's illness is relative, i know mine is severe GAD with Seizures, but I think I always knew I had GAD years before diagnosed, I just thought as long as I get through undergrad and I am not dieing it will go away. Little did I know the opposite happened (the whole stigma and explaining/living with such a illness makes it more difficult to seek treatment and progress quickly. I mean if my friends have the flu, they will tell me and b*tch about it and I will help them out, get them meds or whatever, but I do not tell anyone about my illness (except superficially to my best friend who can not relate/because like he said I can not give you too much help and advise because I do not know how bad it is your feeling etc...) I have to say the illness gave me a huge appreciation for the field of pychiatry, and YES I was once one of those ignorant people that thought those who see a Pychiatrist are just rich people that can not tough out life like everyone else, that lasted until my seizures almost killed me (had one as I was about to pull out of the drive way). Needless to say, I have mass knowledge of the field now through my own experiences and through my indendent research on my condition.
 

stoic

"Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted"
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Nov 4, 2000
7,628
340
sodom, south georgia
MD2b20004 said:
Heck didn't that Senator get charged for driving under the influence of drugs when he crashed his car when he was on Ambien...
c'mon now. he was driving while on ambien, a scheduled drug specifically designed to knock your ass unconcious in like 30 minutes. driving under the influence of such a drug is a stupid idea. he also has a history of prescription drug abuse.

people have to make good choices, particuarly with drugs that can be sedating. is it ok for someone with severe anxiety who has been taking .5mg xanax tid for 2 years to drive while on the drug? yea, sure. it might actually be better that such an individual is medicated while driving. BUT if they just put a patient on xanax a few days ago, then no, it's probably not an ok thing for that patient to drive until they are somewhat adjusted to the drug and no how it will affect them. just common sense.

i hope things are going well for you Md2b. It's been awhile since we last talked. If you don't recall, i've had some anxiety/panic problems with a comorbid ADHD dx and in the past we had a good chat about that. I hope other can see from yours and others openess that mental illness isn't something that should be stigmatized. It makes me mad as hell when people pipe up on sdn saying that people should never admit to taking an SSRI or ever having been depressed because it will be used against them. That's sooooo ridiculous. med school is a stressful thing for everyone and it's a profession that tends to attract many indiviuals prone to some psych problems. at least now we can talk about these things instead of all developing drinking problems and getting divorced 3 times.
 

MD2b20004

Membership Revoked
Removed
15+ Year Member
Dec 31, 2003
365
0
40
Visit site
Status
stoic said:
c'mon now. he was driving while on ambien, a scheduled drug specifically designed to knock your ass unconcious in like 30 minutes. driving under the influence of such a drug is a stupid idea. he also has a history of prescription drug abuse.

people have to make good choices, particuarly with drugs that can be sedating. is it ok for someone with severe anxiety who has been taking .5mg xanax tid for 2 years to drive while on the drug? yea, sure. it might actually be better that such an individual is medicated while driving. BUT if they just put a patient on xanax a few days ago, then no, it's probably not an ok thing for that patient to drive until they are somewhat adjusted to the drug and no how it will affect them. just common sense.

i hope things are going well for you Md2b. It's been awhile since we last talked. If you don't recall, i've had some anxiety/panic problems with a comorbid ADHD dx and in the past we had a good chat about that. I hope other can see from yours and others openess that mental illness isn't something that should be stigmatized. It makes me mad as hell when people pipe up on sdn saying that people should never admit to taking an SSRI or ever having been depressed because it will be used against them. That's sooooo ridiculous. med school is a stressful thing for everyone and it's a profession that tends to attract many indiviuals prone to some psych problems. at least now we can talk about these things instead of all developing drinking problems and getting divorced 3 times.
You're a bright person, and yes I remember our conversations. You were are/were very compassionate and supportive. About the Senator I did not know his history or so on. Can I ask you what Rx's are you on now. I went thru hell of Rxs for my anxiety/seizures, OCD, and to be honest I think I have ADHD but am too scared to bring it up because I dont want to be dependent on drugs because their side effects are horrible and you never know what they are going to do to you, plus the financial factor.
Currently my last RX daily coctail is:
4mg of Xanax
30mg of prozac
45mg of Mitrazipine (or however you spell it, new addition)

And you are right, it is so stupid to ignore symptoms due to stigma, I was one of those ignorant people who feared treatment due to discrimination, insurance rises, malpractice insurance, life insurance, costs, stigma, etc... I took it for 10 years until it got the best of me and is robbing me years of my youth hood, ONLY IF I HAD THE FAMILY SUPPORT AND HAD THE COURAGE to have started my treatment immediately, I would not have been where I am now. But I am glad I am getting treated and I have a new respect for for the field of pyschiatry and what these illnesses can do (disable your life in every way imaginable) if not treated or stablized.

Take Care and thanks for your post.
 
About the Ads