Veterinary School Depression

Discussion in 'Veterinary' started by seinfeldjane, May 3, 2012.

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  1. seinfeldjane


    May 3, 2012

    I began a degree in Veterinary Science at the start of this year.
    I am struggling with depression now. I find I have no time for myself anymore. I study non stop and this is just to get by. I also feel like I don't fit in with any of the other students. I don't related to them in anyway. I was one of the top students in my class in my undergraduate degree, and I find myself intimated by how smart my peers are. I find the course so demanding that I don't find myself enjoying the course. I've stopped doing all the things I loved. I really need advice, because I feel as if I am on the verge of dropping out. I was wondering if there are any other Veterinary students who are feeling, or have gone through the same thing.

    Thank you
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
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  3. ashilb

    ashilb 2+ Year Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    I know its hard to do but try to have fun while studying. Its hard, Demanding right now but it will be all well worth it in the end.
  4. sunshinevet

    sunshinevet 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2009
    Perth, Australia
    Hey there,

    The number one thing to remember is - you're not alone. I guarrentee that atleast 1 of your other classmates feels the same way you do - even if you don't know who that person is. I myself am currently on antidepressants atm - mental illness is not an uncommon thing in the vet school or profession. You are not alone.

    The next thing I suggest you do is get some help. Go see your doctor, go see a councellor, talk to a friend you can trust. If there is a professor you are particularly close to, go talk to them. Approximately 1/3 people will suffer depression or anxiety at some point in their life. Chances are, someone you talk to will have either been through what you're going through, or can point you in the right direction to get some further help. But getting help is so important - you are genuinely not alone, and there are people who seriously care about you. Take advantage of those people. They want to know about things like this.

    After that, I would talk to all your professors. Keep them in the loop, tell them that you're struggling. You won't be the first or last student who will say that to them - and more power for you for telling them than struggling on on your own. If you tell them something is wrong, they can help you - but they can't if you don't tell them. In my experience, they are super lovely about getting you help and sorting things out. And its much easier to tell them and get a plan in place now than wait until you've failed something.

    Also don't forget to take mental health days. Some days, especially when your depressed, you just sit there feeling more depressed about the study you have to do, that you're not doing, and then you don't study. So write those days of completely, and go see friends, go for a walk, read a book (non-vet) go to the movies, call your parents. I would also schedule 1 night a week where you do something non-vet and see non-vet people. 1 night a week should not be causing you to fail, not at this point.

    I would also see someone in the teaching and learning department who should be able to help you with study techniques. Another thing to remember is that in vet school, everyone has come from somewhere where they've been top dog. That's why they're here - thats why YOUR here. It can be a pretty tough adjustment from being the smartest kids in the class to being average. But take a walk through your campus - you're usually in the top 1% of students there. And at the end of the day, being the smartest doesnt mean being the best vet. So stop comparing yourself and focus more on yourself. And whats more, ASK those super smart kids how they're studying. Go to the library with them. Not only may it help you up your grades, but it might help you connect with classmates too.

    My next bit of advice is controversial, but each to his own and it helped me a lot. Think about going on antidepressants. I know there's a pretty big stigma associated with them (wrongly, in my opinion) but they can be a really helpful tool to get your life back on track. Lots of people will tell you to eat better, exercise, see friends, do things you love etc to fix depression - and they're all right - what they also don't understand is how hard it is to start doing those things when you're depressed. So if you think you need a bit of a helping hand, see your doc about getting some. They make taking the next steps that much easier - and I personally didn't have any time to waste, or I was going to fail out.

    Lastly, if you need it - take a year off. I know people who were depressed and have and it was the best thing they ever did. So if worse comes to worse, you can always defer, take a year off, sort yourself out and come back. A year is nothing.

    I hope this helped, feel free to reply or pm me if you like :) I hope you feel better and get back on track soon. A few weeks ago, I could have written the exact same post. You are not alone.
  5. scb44f

    scb44f Llamas and cattle and sheep, oh my! 7+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    I think Sunshine gave wonderful advice! I have nothing to add to that, but I just wanted to stop by and say that you are not alone. I know people in my class, as well as people in the med school here who have had a rough time in their respective professional programs. The med school had a group discussion their second semester of med school to offer help to those who needed it, and to make others aware that their classmates needed support. From what my SO says, about half the class indicated that the program was taking a serious toll in more aspects than just time and money. I actually think it's cool his school holds a formal discussion about it. At my school, they don't really address the issue, but the resources are there. Anyway, people are going to be there to help, no matter what school you go to; you just have to ask. Good luck!!
  6. katryn

    katryn UTCVM c/o 2014!!!! 7+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    I'm not going to rewrite Sunshine's post, but I definitely agree with everything that's in it. There are lots of people here that have gone through similar situations and seeking help is definitely step number one.

    On the front of not feeling like you get along well with your classmates, I can definitely relate to this one. I am NOT a social butterfly, I don't study well with other people, and the two combined have resulted in me not exactly having a lot of friends at school. To make matters worse, being pregnant this year has opened a huge gap between me and the people I was spending time with. The biggest thing that has helped me on that front is remembering that I have friends outside of vet school that I AM best friends with, and seeking them out. Sometimes all I have time for is a short phone call, sometimes it's dinner and a game night, sometimes it's writing off a whole day and going shopping with my best friend. While it sucks to not have much of anyone to talk to at school, making a point to be social with the friends I do have keeps me feeling connected and socially fulfilled.
  7. bunnity

    bunnity Penn 2014 5+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    Sunshinevet really covered it, but I wanted to add that I found that first year people tend to be a little bit in denial about the fact that vet school sucks a lot of the time. I REALLY hated first year to the point that I took a year off (and I REALLY hated it the second time around too!), and I had people give me a hard time about it. There is a strange culture of forced cheerfulness in vet school (especially early on) and it tends to make the people who are honest about their feelings feel really alienated. But I promise you that so many other people feel like you do, and just don't know how to express it or are afraid to express it. Things do get better and usually the cheerfulness thing wears down to a more appropriate level by second year.

    That said, I think once you get into really feeling despair, you need to see a counselor. I don't think this is something that will be fixed by taking a day off or doing something fun (by all means do that but seek professional help too!). I speak from experience, both mine and my best vet school friend.
  8. Minnerbelle

    Minnerbelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2009
    :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup: to everything that's been said so far.

    I agree with what bunnity brought up above. And I think it goes a little beyond just the cheerfulness of vet school. I think there's an overall theme of almost a marginalization of people who go against the most vocalized opinions about everything in vet school, especially during first-year. The "I loooooove vet school and it's so awesome" attitude is one of them. There are a ton of people who don't feel that way, but they tend to feel silenced for whatever reason... and thus it's hard for them to find others who feel the same.

    I think the same thing might be what's going on with the OP's feelings of academic inferiority. I swear, there are a bunch of people in your class who feel the same exact way. Even when the test averages come up, and you're barely meeting the "average" remember how diverse the class is. Esp with first-year material, there are going to be a bunch of people who come in with a lot of background knowledge because they covered it in undergrad. It doesn't make you any dumber than they are. I dunno what it is, but there's always going to be a group of people who equate their self-worth with their grades/smartness, and feel the need to stroke their egos by asserting their "academic super awesomeness" to everyone and their mothers. The people who make sure that everyone knows that they're doing well and that they know oh so much because they study oh so much. You know, the people who make you freak out because compared to where they are, you seem so far behind. Like, "eeek! I haven't even started looking at the material they're fussin about!" Trust me, that's actually a minority of the class. Sometimes it just doesn't seem like it because they're so vocal. You are definitely not alone if you're struggling academically. There are a ton of people out there who just aren't vocal about their academic challenges.

    Sometimes it takes a conversation with someone in your class you didn't know before to realize that 'holy shiznitz, there's someone else who feels the same exact way you do.' I've definitely had those conversations, which led to me sharing that my close friends also feel the same, and this new person telling me that she also knows others who also feel the same. After enough of those encounters, you stop feeling like such an oddball.
  9. katryn

    katryn UTCVM c/o 2014!!!! 7+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    This. It's been very interesting to watch the grades go from a semi-standard looking bell curve in first year, to a curve with one big central spike and two really flat tails on either side in second year.... Sure the highest grade may have been a 100, but that means nothing when only 5 people got more than 5-7 points higher than average and the average was a 75.
  10. Zusie

    Zusie OSU - 2013 5+ Year Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    I'm so sorry you're feeling this way. I think everyone has given good advice.

    I've had some gloomy days - but *luckily* for me during undergrad I didn't have perfect grades and I definitely had some despairing moments with 2nd semester freshman engineering calculus (required for Biology Majors). That course (and my withdrawal the first time through) left me with a pretty good frame of reference for BAD. Nothing in vet school has ever made me cry like I did after a couple of those Calculus tests.*

    I also didn't get into vet school right away and worked full time at a vet clinic for a year. Every time I was washing the 7th dog of the day I'd dream of the day when I'd be back in a classroom and my only responsibility was preparing for tests. I am clearly insane. :)

    Every time I've felt gloomy during the past 3 years I'd just remember a) how hard I worked to get into vet school and how badly I wanted it b) how much I wanted to be in school again when I was working c) that NO TEST could ever be as awful as those for Calculus.

    I also accepted early on that I was a B student and that was how it was going to be. And every time a friend got an A I genuinely felt happy for them.

    So, that's where some of the "false cheer" can come from, for me at least. I kind of try to block out/forget the bad stuff and desperately remember this is what I wanted to do. It's not completely false and I'm definitely a very vocal complainer sometimes. And when something good happens you have to take as much joy from it as you can - a lecture that you are actually truly interested in, finally understanding something that has always perplexed you, etc.

    I have another confession to make. I never joined or even looked for anything like this forum when I was a pre-vet. I was definitely in the "gotta get in" and competitive musical chairs mindset about the spots. I joined afterwards and find that reading all the pre-vet posts of people trying to get in reminds me of how lucky I am.

    I feel like most of my negatively has come on in the last year, and that's not exactly school related. I'm just getting edgy about loans and the job prospects. But I post about that too much on this forum to talk about it anymore in this post. :)

    Anyways, I know there's a point where those kind of mental games and attempts to reason with yourself can't get you out of the rut. Definitely get the help you need. But that's just my experience of how I survived the first 3 years. I'm 1,200 miles from home.

    *Note: Math/Science have always been my strongest subjects. I liked AP Calculus but didn't score high enough on BC to get the credit at my college. What killed me was practicing dozens and dozens of problems from the book and those done in class, then sitting down with a 3-4 problem test and realizing near time I had messed up an early step of a problem that everything else depended on and it was too late to fix it (thankfully they did give back a couple of points back for showing you knew the subsequent steps even if a value input into the equation was wrong). I actually used to want to be an engineer, but no thanks! Boo for the engineering major weed-out course!
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  11. pooter

    pooter PennWe, 2015! 5+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Yeah, you are definitely DEFINITELY not alone.

    A lot of people wiser than me have given some really good responses, so I'm not going to regurgitate those too much except to second (third? fifth?) the suggestion to schedule out an activity that's not even remotely vet-related. Whether it's a climbing gym or a D&D group, contact with people on the "outside" will help.

    As far as getting help, try using your school's counseling services. If you're at a school with good psych support, you might be able to get free appointments tailored to your hours (*glares enviously at the VMRCVM people*). Even a school with crappy counseling services (*cough*Penn*cough*cough*) will be able to get you a referral to someone who can help.
  12. StartingoverVet

    StartingoverVet Flight Instructor for hire Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    Neither here nor there.
    Just to prioritize.
    1). Seek help from a counselor, psychologist or whatever right away. There is no stigma, and they can help with all the other recommendations mentioned.
    2). Your feelings are very typical.. its ok and normal to feel that way, and normal to seek help.

    Good luck.
  13. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    I absolutely agree with seeing someone to help and meds. They both help a lot.

    And just a side note.........In regular Biology Grad schools.....The professors tell you not to stress out about getting an but to focus more on research and learning the material for yourself. Bs are okay because really, not many people in the real world are going to look at your final GPA, it will be more about your experience and skill!

    I haven't started Vet school yet, but I am very nervous about feeling alienated because most of the class is about 8 years younger then me. I am crossing my fingers that there are some cool fun people that I will click... Its harder to make friends with younger people because what you grew up with was a little bit different. I am used to people that age being my students..not my peers.
  14. nyanko

    nyanko 360noscope squidkid 10+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2006
    An academic graduate degree program (MS/PhD) and a professional one like a DVM are completely different, though. The classes aren't the main focus in a typical graduate degree - your research is. However, this translates into a different kind of competitiveness - your marketability after one of the graduate degrees will at least in part be determined by the publications you've got your name on, who you worked under and conferences you went to, etc.

    Vet school is more like undergrad in the sense that you take classes, get grades, have class ranks, etc.

    And it's more like middle school in the sense that there are some really cliquey and annoying whiny people. :laugh:
  15. yoshi1230

    yoshi1230 5+ Year Member

    Dec 1, 2007
    I felt exactly the same my first year. I was away from home, friends and family, i'm not super social and was having trouble finding a way to fit in. I was used to being on top of my class and was finding myself struggling with grades. In the end I found the best thing for me was to take the rest of the year off. I found a way to be happy again, and it was what was best for me at that time in my life. The most important thing is to reach out to somebody, anyone. If nobody knows what you are feeling, they can't help you. When I left school I think it was a huge shock to my family and friends because nobody had any indication that something was wrong. I had learned to put on a happy face and suffer in silence. Telling people how I felt was very liberating and got me the help I needed. I went back the next fall and managed to find people I enjoyed hanging out with. Make friends outside of vet school, they don't have the same problems and stresses and won't bog you down with the same thing you hear all day at school. Make time to go outside and enjoy the sun, its good for you. Your grades after vet school won't matter. If you ever need someone to talk to who has been exactly where you are now, feel free to inbox me!
  16. Minnerbelle

    Minnerbelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2009
    As long as you don't go in with the attitude of "these younger people who didn't grow up like I did are uncool and won't click with me" you should be fine. There are a ton of 30+ yo in vet school, and generally they find friends with people of all ages. Plus, at least in my experience some (not all) of the older people in my classes have been the most immature.
  17. Minnerbelle

    Minnerbelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Apr 2, 2009
  18. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    That's what I was trying to say...Don't fail your classes, but its not as important to have all As or be the top of the class. It's about what you take away from your experiences to your future job.
  19. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    I am going in ready to meet some new people, make some life long friends no matter what age they are..I hope they think I am cool!! I am outgoing and like being silly and I am a total nerd.:luck::xf::rolleyes:
  20. deg5030

    deg5030 SGU c/o 2016 :) 2+ Year Member

    Nov 9, 2011
    State College, PA
    Everyone has great advice. We see a lot of issues being in a foreign school but the school stresses talking with someone to deal with the distance, island, school, everything. I tend to make sure i have a day off whether it is a night out with friends at the bars or something similar. I'm only my first semester in but i found that i really need that night out keep myself level
  21. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    I am hoping to find a place to do ceramics arts where I am going. I love throwing pottery. Its nice making a huge muddy mess all over yourself, and come out with some art even if it's not awesome art. I am also hoping to make some friends to have like sushi, pasta, spring roll night. :love: Come up with some fun stuff to do!! Doggie dates. TV night (I have tivo, so I tape all my favorite tv shows, or use
  22. CanHardlyWait

    CanHardlyWait VMRCVM c/o 2016 2+ Year Member

    Not trying to derail the thread, sorry...
    If you find a place to do ceramics let me know. I've never done it but always wanted to:)

    seinfeldjane, I just wanted to say that I think that it's brave that you are reaching out and asking for help before something drastic happens. Best of luck to you:luck:
    Last edited: May 26, 2012
  23. Audrey007

    Audrey007 VMRCVM C/O 2016 2+ Year Member

    Feb 6, 2011
    Louisville, KY
    CanHardlyWait we can take ceramics together!! I know the YMCA has classes, I need to find out more... I also plan on finding horseback riding lessons and refresh myself..I haven't really done any hardcore riding (jumping, cross country etc) since high school. Maybe even some Scuba Practice as well.

    Also, I am just using ceramics as an example of things I did for myself when I lived alone working at a job and I was really depressed. I found something that I could do alone but really enjoyed doing and I made friends at the Ceramics place, one of which became a really good friend of mine, who I just went and visited at her new place where she is doing a Masters in Ceramics. (On a side note she isn't really happy with where she is, but having me come and visit her really cheered her up I have your friends come visit you every once in a while from out of town!!). That was something I did once a week on my free time. I know I am not going to have time to do all of those things at once, but I might do one at a mix it up!
  24. reidjones


    May 18, 2012
    That is very good advice. I agree 100%.
  25. PetMySausage

    PetMySausage Banned

    Jun 7, 2012
    I completely agree with sunshine. I went on antidepressants my last year of undergrad and it made all the difference in the world. I know many, many vet and med. students that are on antidepressants. I think it's more common than not.
  26. RadRadTerp

    RadRadTerp 5+ Year Member

    Mar 15, 2011
    Speaking of being bummed: I wanted to do fun, crazy things for the 2 summers we get in vet school, but this is my second summer and I didn't get into any of the internships I applied to and I'm back at the practice I've always worked at. I can't afford to travel or do more unpaid shadowing to get experience. I've volunteered a few times doing some anesthesia monitoring at a local spay/neuter clinic but that got old really quick. Being broke means that all the money I'm earning is going to cover my bills over the summer with little to nothing left for the fall. After this summer, it's basically 2 straight years without any big breaks, with the except of our shortened 3rd year winter break. I'm so envious of my classmates who got into cool overseas internships and who are getting paid very well to do research, but here I am spending my off-time trying to figure out ways to enjoy my summer without spending any money. I know this isn't exactly "depression" but I feel like I haven't really gotten a chance to enjoy the time I have before I'll be paying back my loans.

    /end whine.
  27. bunnity

    bunnity Penn 2014 5+ Year Member

    Jan 26, 2009
    Right with you. I don't have any kind of parental support so my summers are work-work-work so I can keep paying rent (and in this summer's case, buy the car I will need for 4th year rotations). There's so much experience (and relaxation) that I wish I was getting. I consider it a break anyway - NO TESTS ;)

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