Personal Statement: Is Depression a touchy subject?

Is depression an topic appropriate for P.statement?

  • Inappropriate

    Votes: 56 47.1%
  • Appropriate

    Votes: 39 32.8%
  • Indifferent

    Votes: 24 20.2%

  • Total voters
    119

jhk43

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Personal Statement: Is Depression a touchy subject?
 

quideam

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I'd say that writing about someone else's depression and how it effected you is great. Writing about your own depression... I would advise against, just because it IS sort of touchy, and you can't be certain how adcoms will feel about admitting an applicant with a history of mental illness. But it sounds like your topic is appropriate, and sufficiently personal without being uncomfortable. Good luck!! (and I hope that your brother is ok! :( )
 
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ewing

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lots of things are touchy, that just means you need to do a good job writing the essay...if touchy makes you nervous, go for trite and hackneyed...the AdComs have never seen that before.:laugh:
 

jhk43

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depression may be hereditary and ADCOMS may link this "ill" to the applicant
 

Clemson Doc

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I think you should definitely talk about your brother's depression in your personal statement. That obviously had a profound effect on you, and that will help you come across as sincere.

The whole key to personal statements seems to be originality. Since admissions people read hundreds, if not thousands, of personal statements, it is important to make yours as memorable as possible. It sounds like you're on the right track.
 

KarateGirl

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Originally posted by greggth
Is depression hereditary?

It can be, but to reject you for fear that you might carry the gene would be a stretch IMO (which admittedly isn't worth much).

I wrote about my own depression in my personal statement, and so far I have been accepted to one school and have several more interviews pending. My first interviewer questioned me quite a bit about it (she, maybe not-so-coincidentally, was a clinical psychologist), and I wondered for a short time if it was wise to be so honest, but if I had it to do over again I wouldn't change it. It's been a huge influence in the course of my life, and I wouldn't want to go to a school who would hold that against me, especially since my experience has made me proud of what I've done and who I am.

I think it depends on the individual whether it is appropriate or not. As long as you write about your (and your brother's) experience honestly and for the right reason, you should be ok. But if you're someone who likes to play it safe and really aren't sure about including it then you might want to focus on something else, because there are no guarantees, and you could be grilled on it and your motivation for writing it.
 

Pinkertinkle

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I'd like to add to/hijack this thread.

If you were treated for something such as depression, or a more serious health issue which you were going to talk about in your personal statement, at a notable medical school hospital, would you cite the medical school hospital by name?
 

KarateGirl

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Originally posted by Pinkertinkle
I'd like to add to/hijack this thread.

If you were treated for something such as depression, or a more serious health issue which you were going to talk about in your personal statement, at a notable medical school hospital, would you cite the medical school hospital by name?

I'd say not unless that medical school was your first and only choice! I can't imagine that mentioning another university's hospital would be a positive thing to most adcoms. How do you think it would or could benefit the applicant to do that?

Also, I'll take this opportunity to add to my previous comment: IMO, as far as mental illness goes, I would probably avoid mentioning hospitalization and/or suicide attempts in the personal statement. I wouldn't lie about them if asked, but I think volunteering that much detail, especially in writing, could end up backfiring if not handled properly.
 

skypilot

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I wrote about my brother's battle with mental illness in my personal statement. I mainly wrote about the profound effect that medicine has had in improving the quality of his life. In writing the essay I was concerned about my brother's privacy as well as my own.

I think you have to be very careful when writing about this subject but if you spend a lot of time editing your essay it will come out alright. It is a personal statement after all and the idea is to get very personal even though it may make you a little bit vulnerable.
 
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Eraserhead

I wrote about my former best friend's depression/psychosis/and attempt to kill himself and how it influenced my goals, volunteer work, research work, major, and everything else related to medicine and psychology. No problems here. I *did* feel like some interviewers were interested in my mental health but they are kind of checking on this for everyone I think.

If the experience is meaningful and related to your desire to go to medical school, then by all means talk about it. Talking about your own depression or other mental illness is fine if you are 100% over it and 100% stable/better IMO. For example, you were depressed for several years then discovered a sport you really love that stimulated you and eventually got you interested in sports medicine and psychiatry. Those stories are inspiring.
 
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vigils

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I would definetely stay clear of the subject of depression. Your his brother, and it "runs in the family". The subject is just sort of a taboo. With the opportunity to write anything you like, try choosing something a bit less contraversial. I just think if there's even the slightest chance that someone will be uncomfortable with your essay, its not a good idea. Remeber medicince is still a profession with strong cultural traits.
 
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Eraserhead

Originally posted by vigils
I would definetely stay clear of the subject of depression. Your his brother, and it "runs in the family". The subject is just sort of a taboo. With the opportunity to write anything you like, try choosing something a bit less contraversial. I just think if there's even the slightest chance that someone will be uncomfortable with your essay, its not a good idea. Remeber medicince is still a profession with strong cultural traits.

Vigil does have a point. My essay was VERY controversial to begin with (very activist-like) and then I toned it down with the help of several readers. You can write about depression and drug use as I did in a conservative way that won't freak people out but the whole thing is many psychiatrists do believe depression runs in families and you are taking a risk there. It may mean that one person likes your essay even more because you are being so open and you may have an interviewer that really really believes you to be an amazing candidate because of your talk about this event, but it is more likely that less people will like your essay because they are so conservative and you will get less interviews and less chances to tell the story, etc. etc.
 

greggth

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Originally posted by DoctorKevin
I *did* feel like some interviewers were interested in my mental health but they are kind of checking on this for everyone I think.

As far as I can recall, not one interviewer asked questions pertaining to my mental health, except one asked why I took the train to the interview instead of flying (as if I might be afraid to fly, which I'm not-- it's just that the train was cheaper).
 
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indigoblue

it seems as though your brother's illness played a large role in your view of medicine. depending on how you write about it, i think it shows your maturity and depth as a person.
 

youcandoit

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I think so long as you make it more about *you* than him (meaning, how it affected you and what you learned from it about yourself), it would be a fine topic to write on.
 
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Eraserhead

Originally posted by greggth
Originally posted by DoctorKevin
I *did* feel like some interviewers were interested in my mental health but they are kind of checking on this for everyone I think.

As far as I can recall, not one interviewer asked questions pertaining to my mental health, except one asked why I took the train to the interview instead of flying (as if I might be afraid to fly, which I'm not-- it's just that the train was cheaper).

Oh no one asked directly about my mental health, I just mean I felt like this was an underlying part of some interviews.
 

Sharky

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If you include in your personal statement that you are clinically depressed, this could be grounds for rejection.
 

snowbear

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During my freshman year of college I became depressed (mostly because of the break-up of my family and because I was far away from them at that time) and because of my depression I ended up leaving the University that I was at after the first quarter and enrolling in a community college so I could be close to my family.

Because my depression, and the circumstances that surround it, has played a very significant role in who I have become as a person I wanted to include it in my personal statement. At first I was worried, as most of you on this thread are, about what the adcoms would think about this and about their subsequent decisions on my file. Because of this concern, I tried to write my PS without talking about my depression. I couldn't do it. That time in my life played such a big part in who I have become, that a PS that omitted that experience did not sound real to me, or to other people that read it. Although it was difficult, in the end I included my depression and how it has shaped who I am and who I want to become.

In my opinion I think that adcoms grant interviews and give acceptances to people that they feel passionate about. An adcom cannot feel passionate about an applicant that they feel they don't genuinely know.

To the Op: I feel that you should talk about your brother's depression if it has played a significant role in who you have become and in why you have choosen to pursue medicine. As with everything included in a PS, it is imperative that you discuss not only the experience but how the experience has affected you and your decision to become a physician.

As future doctors, we should be cautious not to perpetuate the stigma that is associated with mental illness.
 

KarateGirl

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Originally posted by Sharky
If you include in your personal statement that you are clinically depressed, this could be grounds for rejection.

To be honest, if an applicant actually is clinically depressed, then he or she should be rejected, because there is no way in hell an actively depressed person could handle medical school.

Personal experience with depression should only be addressed if it is in the past, and in particular if you can show what you learned from it and that it is no longer an issue. And if it's not in the past, then that person should seriously consider putting the application process off till they are in a better position to handle the rigors of medical school.

And snowbear, I totally agree with everything you said.
 
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indigoblue

it would be even better if you could mention how the illness inspired you to help people like him.
 

MErc44

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It is after all a personal statement. Mine was centered around the death of my mom during my second year in college. I sort of knew that I wanted to be a doctor since I was 12 but it took watching my mom suffer through the effects of cancer to realize that I wanted to be a doctor. It was the worst feeling i've ever had watching and knowing that I couldn't do anything, as a doctor I can do something. My decision was made then and I haven't looked back. With my 2.9 gpa for the first half of my second year I never thought I would be an MD. Sometimes this fact leaves me speechless.
 

Sharky

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Originally posted by KarateGirl
To be honest, if an applicant actually is clinically depressed, then he or she should be rejected, because there is no way in hell an actively depressed person could handle medical school.
This is correct. Instead of talking about depression in a personal statement, you should talk about more pleasant subjects like incorporating sharks into it. Everyone likes sharks and I'm sure the ADCOMs would appreciate it.
 

jlee9531

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Originally posted by Sharky
This is correct. Instead of talking about depression in a personal statement, you should talk about more pleasant subjects like incorporating sharks into it. Everyone likes sharks and I'm sure the ADCOMs would appreciate it.

ok. now that was just lame. :p
 

vegangirl

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This is correct. Instead of talking about depression in a personal statement, you should talk about more pleasant subjects like incorporating sharks into it. Everyone likes sharks and I'm sure the ADCOMs would appreciate it.


:laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

sharks are very cool
 

ajk1

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If im honest i think half of these comments are ridiculous. i myslef had severe depression and after a few years managaed to over come it and it has made me such a determined and strong willed person and would be happy to wrote it in my personal statement. Unis ask if you have this problem on a part of ucas not to disadvantage you but just to get you the help you will need at uni.
Im applying now and am going to include how the outcome has improved mylife.
It once destroyed it and from that failed my a/s' and now have predicted grade of AAB because of the out come of depression. It has made me want to achieve higher than i ever have and to reach every goal i have set myself.
 

SavoirFaire

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I think it depends. Some people suffer from depression or Bipolar disorder and are treated. If this is the case it might be okay in a PS.

Others do not receive proper treatment, go on to suffer long term, and take it on as part of their identity. These people will say things like "my bipolar" or "my fight with depression". They will talk about this for years and years.

I think for a personal statement the first group is okay. People who are treated and essentially 'cured'. The second group will likely raise flags in a PS with a story like that or in interviews. The difference between psychiatric illnesses and other illnesses is that psychiatric ones affect your abilities to relate to others at the interpersonal level. Depression can interfere with cognitive functioning (i.e. memory and concentration). Emotional stability is important in a healthcare setting; it's one of the traits interviewers seem to look for.
 

NH14

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I would avoid it. You don't know how adcom members will view it. I know they're suppose to be unbiased on issues like this.

But think of it- they are evaluating your fitness for medical school - one of the most arduous, and emotionally challenging, endeavors one can take on. They may be worried for your well-being (perhaps unjustifiably) and may shy away from admitting you...IMHO
 
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