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Should I mention my depression in my application?

Discussion in 'Nontraditional Students' started by arbor_yves, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. arbor_yves

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    Hi there!

    So, a little details about myself. I went from graduating valedictorian in HS to more than likely graduating with a 2.5 GPA (I am now a 4th year in college). I have been dealing with depression for a little over a year and I just now have found the right medication and support to help me function normally again. I am registered to take the MCAT September 23rd.

    Now my question is whether I should mention the reason behind my lack of performance in school in my application or just leave it as it is. I have heard from some people that mentioning how you have overcome your disadvantage and showing an improvement overall is worth mentioning. However, recently a fellow colleague told me that a psychology professor said that mentioning a mental disorder could put you up to discrimination and that its better not to mention it at all. So what should I do? I know I don't have good chances of getting in, but the doctor I shadow told me to go for it anyway (as in apply) because I have nothing to lose. I am of course also considering post-bacc programs.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!!! :cat:
     
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  3. femmegoblue

    2+ Year Member

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    I think it is fine to address overcoming mental health issues as long as you make it clear what you've done to overcome that, and the spot are in now (obv after you have done GPA repair and actually proven that).
     
  4. Hopey1984

    7+ Year Member

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    First of all, you have my empathy for struggling with depression.

    I honestly think I am on the naive and uninformed side of things, but for what it's worth --- I agree with what futuremdforme said. Do the post-bacc/retake the pre-requisite courses. When the time comes to apply then you can decide if you want to disclose that info about the past but I would say likely no reason or need to... They want to see what kind of student you are now, coming into the program, not what was X years ago.

    Other than that, I agree with femmegoblue's approach. I'll tell you this. I'm a non-trad with a graduate degree.. My grades are not omgamazingness (I wish, haha) but they did not suffer, rather, the extenuating circumstances I need to explain are my part-time status for certain semesters (family member illness) and leaves of absence (own illness). I was always advised to have the "proof" (e.g. death certificate, so morbid but true) and to "paint it" as what you've overcome. In fact these illnesses have absolutely played roles in my desire to become a doctor........
    What you're hearing from the psych prof is not surprising to me. In general, yes - avoid disclosing past treatment or history of mental illness - it's like law, don't say more than you need to. But for a specific situation, if there is a good reason why you should and want to disclose it, and the benefits outweigh the cons... that's your decision to make.


    I am going to private message you with more personal thoughts I have on this.
     
    #3 Hopey1984, Aug 12, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
    Physician Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

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    1. As others have hinted, you have no business sitting for the MCAT at this stage. Those scores are only good for a few years, and with a 2.5 GPA you probably have several years of grade rehabilitation in your future before sitting for the MCAT even makes sense. So cancel that now.
    2. I wouldn't mention mental illness in an application except as necessary. It not going to be viewed as a justification of. Bad GPA so much as a concern as to how you'll do in med school.
    3. If you are graduating college with a 2.5 GPA, I'm not sure you have compiled much evidence that you've "overcome a disadvantage", just that you have one. You need to fix this first before that argument can even be considered.
    4. strongly disagree with your doctor who said you "have nothing to lose." that's just ignorant. If you fix things first without becoming a reapplicant and second time MCAT taker, your odds of getting into med school are simply much much better. So yeah, you have lots to lose. He's telling you you are already in a hole so big deal if you make it a lot deeper, but truthfully you are more likely to eventually get out of the hole if you are in a not so deep hole. His logic is only true if he's really saying there's no f'ing way you'll ever get in (so my as well burn all your bridges now).
    5. Look at this as a long multiple-year academic journey, and one that ends with, not starts with, taking the MCAT. I'm thinking at least two years of grade rehabilitation before you have any reason to sit for an MCAT, and even that might be rushing things. Consider how passionate you are about this path before you embark on this long arduous quest. And ignore anyone who suggest just taking shots now or winging it. it's not that kind of journey. Even though I'm sure it sounds appealing to try and bypass a lot of the steps.
     
    #4 Law2Doc, Aug 12, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  6. Goro

    Faculty 7+ Year Member

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    100% agree with my learned colleague.

    OP, I am particularly incensed at your doctor. You certainly DO have something to lose: your time and your money.

    Having had depression myself, I am glad that you have found something that works. But you've only just started on this path. This is a long road. Think of it as a marathon, not a sprint. You need to have your therapist or psychiatrist on board with your decision, but med school is a furnace. I've seen it break healthy students.

     
  7. wholeheartedly

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    I'm just going to third Goro and Law2Doc. You arent in a position to apply now and you do have a lot to lose if you try. Second, it's not a bad idea to just spend sometime getting comfortable with your new medication and feel things out for awhile anyway. Functioning normally is great, functioning very well would be better, and knowing you can maintain that level of functioning over the long haul would be best and greatly improve your chances of succuess at things in the future.
     
  8. beebreezy

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    Do NOT mention depression when you apply. Having had bouts of extreme depression that involved me spending entire days in bed crying and thinking I wished I would die in my sleep, I know that it absolutely should count as an example of overcoming hardship. Unfortunately, reality is a lot of people just see it as a cheap way to garner sympathy for yourself without having to go through "real" hardships. If it's not perceived that way, it will still make adcoms nervous because of its potential to interfere with your ability to succeed in med school. I'll admit this is a valid concern, but it does suck that mental illness is seen as especially concerning when, for instance, my chronic migraines probably pose a larger threat to my academic performance, if anything (but I'm amazingly good at pushing through both luckily...kind of have to be able to ignore most migraines when you get at least one a week.)
     

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