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Should I defer? Advice?

careersearcher24

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I wanna hear your guys' opinions about my current situation. I have delt with pretty bad depression for about 9 years. During my gap year, I had the goal of working these problems out. I have been going to therapy and trying to work on myself. However, I only started making progress recently (before COVID), but am starting school in August.

These personal life issues require time outside of studying to be spent in social settings, particularly to date. I need to be interacting with other young people to create opportunities. My issues are related to not only the significant time commitment med school requires, but also the lockdown. I am worried that there will be limited time in person with classmates and others, making this almost impossible to figure out. Also doesn't help I may have a hard time making friends and a support system (moving far from home), because of online classes/closures in the state.

Of course, the lockdown thing still exists if I defer. But staying home, I have an established life already which could make this easier. I was thinking of using the deferral year to continue working on these issues since I'll have more free time, although the lockdown still may make it hard. Another issue is my parents. I can't tell them the real reason I would want to defer because they don't know about my issues, nor do I wish to let them know. No clue what I'd tell them.

I am pretty high functioning and have dealt with this during highschool/undergrad/tough master's. I can still do well in school and have done so in the past. I just don't want to wait any longer to address this.
 
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HopeIsStrength

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I honestly think that you are going through a bit of anxiety because a new horizon and chapter is coming and you are worried about what that brings. I do not have a depression diagnosis but that anxiety exists in me too. If I were in your shoes I'm not sure what I would do, but I think it all depends on how functional your depression is.

If you feel debilitated academically during your depressive episodes then starting med school would be a hard ask, but if not I think it might not be a bad idea to go. I think that if socializing is your goal and the way you want to improve your mental state then medical school where many young people are working towards the same goals isn't a bad place to start. I know you said medical school will be online but I think there will still be some socializing opportunities particularly after the first semester and maybe you can take advantage of those.
 
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JSReed

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I would suggest looking into whether deferral is possible first? It doesn't seem like its super easy to get, and I'd hate for you to figure out you want to defer and then find out the school won't let you. Make sure its possible before you start going down that road in your mind.
 
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deleted889094

Don't go to medical school if you are worried about being able to handle it. It tends to make your mental health worse. If you can defer, do it and try to make as much progress as you can.

Have you tried SSRI's? They worked wonders for me.
 
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careersearcher24

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Don't go to medical school if you are worried about being able to handle it. It tends to make your mental health worse. If you can defer, do it and try to make as much progress as you can.

Have you tried SSRI's? They worked wonders for me.
I started an SNRI last week actually. We'll see how it goes. I just don't want to rely on meds. My issues are easily solved with action, it just takes free time with others that's all.
 

libertyyne

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Lets assume you get a year off, do you think your issues will be resolved within a year? What happens if they are not ? Schools are unlikely to extend that time.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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I started an SNRI last week actually. We'll see how it goes. I just don't want to rely on meds. My issues are easily solved with action, it just takes free time with others that's all.

Give it time. They can take 6-8 weeks to really kick in. I had bad anxiety and started on lexapro during orientation at med school, and it was totally the right decision and let me just be me, and I’ve been fine.
 
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careersearcher24

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Lets assume you get a year off, do you think your issues will be resolved within a year? What happens if they are not ? Schools are unlikely to extend that time.
Yeah this would be a problem. It might take years to resolve... More like probably to be honest. But I'm worried that I won't have the time in school/residency to do that. To be honest, my issues are more important to me to solve than being a doctor though. So that's something to think about.
 
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deleted889094

Give it time. They can take 6-8 weeks to really kick in. I had bad anxiety and started on lexapro during orientation at med school, and it was totally the right decision and let me just be me, and I’ve been fine.
Woo same med club. The Lexabros

OP, you never know. I didn't find out until after I started meds that pretty much everyone on one side of my family has some sort of depression or anxiety. After some testing, turns out we have one of those genes that make you not as great with Serotonin.

I don't see it as relying on medication as much as helping my body out with the homeostasis
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Woo same med club. The Lexabros

OP, you never know. I didn't find out until after I started meds that pretty much everyone on one side of my family has some sort of depression or anxiety. After some testing, turns out we have one of those genes that make you not as great with Serotonin.

I don't see it as relying on medication as much as helping my body out with the homeostasis

Same. I view the medication as helping with homeostasis so I can be myself and not what the anxiety does to me.
 
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Gilakend

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I would be more worried about your clinical years and maybe even residency rather than the current lockdown. In my opinion, while carving out the time seems to work well, I'm not sure it's a long term solution when there are times you won't be in control of your own schedule even if everything is open again.

If I was in your shoes, for me to be comfortable starting med school I would want to know I had ways to handle my concerns without a surplus of free time since during the most mentally taxing times (rotations, dedicated, residency) you won't have any. Those situations stacked on top of each other sounds like a bad time.
 
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careersearcher24

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I would be more worried about your clinical years and maybe even residency rather than the current lockdown. In my opinion, while carving out the time seems to work well, I'm not sure it's a long term solution when there are times you won't be in control of your own schedule even if everything is open again.

If I was in your shoes, for me to be comfortable starting med school I would want to know I had ways to handle my concerns without a surplus of free time since during the most mentally taxing times (rotations, dedicated, residency) you won't have any. Those situations stacked on top of each other sounds like a bad time.
Yeah, definitely more worried about those times. Unfortunately, free time and effort is the only way to treat the source of my angst. Anything else I do, like meditation, medication, exercise (the common things people say you needa do) only address the symptoms, not the problem itself.

My concerns aren't only with the lockdown, but medicine in general. I keep getting mixed reviews from people in terms of what life is like in med school and residency. I am just so lost and don't know what to do. I want to have a life outside of medicine, where I can address my issues, be young, and do this one or two normal things most people take for granted, that I haven't had.

However, I have lived a very good life and am self-aware, so I know I have it good in most other areas. But this one thing is critical to an individual's life, happiness, and identity, so not having it has really caused me significant pain for so long. If I cannot make it work during school, I either will drag on like I have been doing or have to stop going down this path.
 

DrRedstone

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I just want to throw in on the medicine note, I take Zyrtec every day. My wife takes Welbutrin. Once you get right down to it, the only difference is the stigma attached to mental health. I take my pill to function properly and so does she. Don't think of it as a weakness to take something to help you function better.
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Anything else I do, like meditation, medication, exercise (the common things people say you needa do) only address the symptoms, not the problem itself.

While it’s true that for certain psychiatric disorders, medications mainly address the symptoms (eg, in ptsd), that does not mean that they aren’t worthwhile. Think of it like a grease fire on a stove. If the fire is small (like 5/9 criteria for depression), you might be able to just turn off the stove and take care of it by going after the root cause. But if the flames are huge (like 8-9/9 criteria), you’re not getting near that knob. You need to throw some baking soda on there to calm things down a bit so you can go after the root cause.
 
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deleted889094

While it’s true that for certain psychiatric disorders, medications mainly address the symptoms (eg, in ptsd), that does not mean that they aren’t worthwhile. Think of it like a grease fire on a stove. If the fire is small (like 5/9 criteria for depression), you might be able to just turn off the stove and take care of it by going after the root cause. But if the flames are huge (like 8-9/9 criteria), you’re not getting near that knob. You need to throw some baking soda on there to calm things down a bit so you can go after the root cause.
Analogies are difficult because of the complicated relationship between biology and environment for so many disorders, but that's a good example
 
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Matthew9Thirtyfive

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Analogies are difficult because of the complicated relationship between biology and environment for so many disorders, but that's a good example

Can’t take credit. One of my attendings used it in our intro lecture on psych haha.
 
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