Would it be wise to bring up depression in a personal statement?

Aug 13, 2009
468
18
51
Status
Medical Student
I realize I'm a bit late in writing my personal statement but this is only because there isn't much that makes me seem all to unique. Other than personal stories about patients where I've volunteered the only very personal thing I can put into the essay is how the work I've put into preparing for medical school has helped pull me out of a depression. The depression went undiagnosed(I mentioned the idea of going to a psychiatrist to my family once and the reaction kept me from bringing it up again) but the symptoms were obviously there - lethargy, not having fun doing the things you once loved, not wanting to see friends, constant feeling of worthlessness, etc. Anyways, keeping busy with studies was about the only thing that kept me going. Things like the volunteering I've done helped raise my self esteem not only because I felt good about helping others but because I loved the things I did.

In our society mental issues carry a certain stigma so I'm not quite sure if it would be a good idea to include something like this in the statement even though it is meaningful to me. Any opinions?

Thanks in advance
 

Bernoull

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 24, 2007
1,724
8
141
Ischioanal fossa
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I realize I'm a bit late in writing my personal statement but this is only because there isn't much that makes me seem all to unique. Other than personal stories about patients where I've volunteered the only very personal thing I can put into the essay is how the work I've put into preparing for medical school has helped pull me out of a depression. The depression went undiagnosed(I mentioned the idea of going to a psychiatrist to my family once and the reaction kept me from bringing it up again) but the symptoms were obviously there - lethargy, not having fun doing the things you once loved, not wanting to see friends, constant feeling of worthlessness, etc. Anyways, keeping busy with studies was about the only thing that kept me going. Things like the volunteering I've done helped raise my self esteem not only because I felt good about helping others but because I loved the things I did.

In our society mental issues carry a certain stigma so I'm not quite sure if it would be a good idea to include something like this in the statement even though it is meaningful to me. Any opinions?

Thanks in advance
Bring it up only if it supports ur essay's thesis: why medicine, or u need to explain something (poor grades, challenges etc). Don't bring it up just bcos.. also IF u do bring it up STRESS that ur not depressed anymore, u've dealt with it therapeutically and can function well with high stress, demands etc...

The last thing u want is ADCOMs questioning whether u can survive med school w/o a breakdown..

Be careful and selective and GL.
 

Depakote

Pediatric Anesthesiologist
Moderator Emeritus
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2004
20,811
102
281
SOCMOB
Status
Attending Physician
I realize I'm a bit late in writing my personal statement but this is only because there isn't much that makes me seem all to unique. Other than personal stories about patients where I've volunteered the only very personal thing I can put into the essay is how the work I've put into preparing for medical school has helped pull me out of a depression. The depression went undiagnosed(I mentioned the idea of going to a psychiatrist to my family once and the reaction kept me from bringing it up again) but the symptoms were obviously there - lethargy, not having fun doing the things you once loved, not wanting to see friends, constant feeling of worthlessness, etc. Anyways, keeping busy with studies was about the only thing that kept me going. Things like the volunteering I've done helped raise my self esteem not only because I felt good about helping others but because I loved the things I did.

In our society mental issues carry a certain stigma so I'm not quite sure if it would be a good idea to include something like this in the statement even though it is meaningful to me. Any opinions?

Thanks in advance
No, I would recommend against mentioning it.

You are giving them unnecessary ammunition to use against you. Medical school will likely be the most stressful experience you've faced thus far, you don't want to give them a reason to choose someone who isn't overtly advertising their weaknesses and doing a poor job describing why they should become a doctor. "It's the only thing keeping me going" probably isn't going to win them over. You need to talk about "why medicine?" not about a self-diagnosed condition that, if you do have it, would make adcoms reluctant to admit you.
 
Aug 13, 2009
468
18
51
Status
Medical Student
And I'm glad I brought it for the the post above, thanks Depakote and Bernoull.
 

Bernoull

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 24, 2007
1,724
8
141
Ischioanal fossa
Status
Resident [Any Field]
And I'm glad I brought it for the the post above, thanks Depakote and Bernoull.
U're welcome.

Keep in mind the objective of ur PS is:

1. Convincingly explain why medicine..
2. Demonstrate that u have experientially tested ur passion for medicine..
3. Stress ur attributes that will make u a good physician
4. Address any serious weakness in ur app (I'm not talking about Bs or Cs either)

GL
 

DrBowtie

Final Countdown
Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Feb 24, 2005
15,488
1,871
281
Classyville
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Do NOT do it. In no way does battling depression sell yourself to ADCOMs.
 

jgauger

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 31, 2009
327
22
151
Status
Medical Student
I never specifically mentioned depression and I would advise against it if it doesn't have a big part to do with why you chose medicine. I did mention that I had a rough semester when I lost a couple of loved ones, but never mentioned depression...you can explain your situation without adding a negative connotation to it.
 
May 27, 2009
4,020
5
41
Status
Medical Student
I realize I'm a bit late in writing my personal statement but this is only because there isn't much that makes me seem all to unique. Other than personal stories about patients where I've volunteered the only very personal thing I can put into the essay is how the work I've put into preparing for medical school has helped pull me out of a depression. The depression went undiagnosed(I mentioned the idea of going to a psychiatrist to my family once and the reaction kept me from bringing it up again) but the symptoms were obviously there - lethargy, not having fun doing the things you once loved, not wanting to see friends, constant feeling of worthlessness, etc. Anyways, keeping busy with studies was about the only thing that kept me going. Things like the volunteering I've done helped raise my self esteem not only because I felt good about helping others but because I loved the things I did.

In our society mental issues carry a certain stigma so I'm not quite sure if it would be a good idea to include something like this in the statement even though it is meaningful to me. Any opinions?

Thanks in advance
I think you have the answer to your question in bold. Unfortunately, mental illnesses have not received the same level of attention as other illnesses. I personally would not include it in my PS.
 

ScronCron

5+ Year Member
May 13, 2009
80
0
91
Status
Would you go to a job interview and talk about how you struggle with depression? Of course not, so don't mention it anywhere in your application or interviews. Remember, you are applying to professional school. You can be personal, but only in ways that are professionally appropriate and relevant.

I think a lot of people are a little too personal and honest in the application process at the risk of disclosing details about themselves that are not appropriate in a professional setting and/or reflect negatively on their candidacy.

For instance, I recently counseled someone for an upcoming job interview. He asked me for help in answering the "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" question. He's moving into a new industry and was a bit ambivalent about it. He wanted to say "A lot can change in ten years and I may decide to move out of health care or go to business school. It's very unpredictable." NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. Perhaps he is uncertain about the trajectory of his career, but you NEVER want to portray yourself as someone who is uncertain and uncommitted to the job you are interviewing for. We are all ambivalent about many things and have weaknesses that we will have to overcome. However, an interview and application are NOT places to express these feelings and traits.

In every word in your application and at your interviews, you want to be putting your BEST foot forward.
 

flip26

10+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2007
4,795
9
0
Status
Medical Student
NO! Don't do it.

Find a different approach to writing the PS.
 
Mar 1, 2010
329
0
0
Status
Medical Student
Have you considered having your cake and eating it too? Instead of specifically discussing depression, you could talk about how preparing for medical school energized and excited you. Mention the positive aspects, but leave out the negative. My experience with personal statements is that people are often too hard on themselves!
 

GH253

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 19, 2009
834
109
181
Status
NO, emphatically. The people who tell you not to fear the stigma of mental illness are the ones who stigmatize the most aggressively.
 

Evergrey

10+ Year Member
Dec 27, 2008
1,471
6
251
Status
Medical Student
I realize I'm a bit late in writing my personal statement but this is only because there isn't much that makes me seem all to unique. Other than personal stories about patients where I've volunteered the only very personal thing I can put into the essay is how the work I've put into preparing for medical school has helped pull me out of a depression. The depression went undiagnosed(I mentioned the idea of going to a psychiatrist to my family once and the reaction kept me from bringing it up again) but the symptoms were obviously there - lethargy, not having fun doing the things you once loved, not wanting to see friends, constant feeling of worthlessness, etc. Anyways, keeping busy with studies was about the only thing that kept me going. Things like the volunteering I've done helped raise my self esteem not only because I felt good about helping others but because I loved the things I did.

In our society mental issues carry a certain stigma so I'm not quite sure if it would be a good idea to include something like this in the statement even though it is meaningful to me. Any opinions?

Thanks in advance
To echo what others have said, I too agree that it wouldn't be good to mention your depression. All I would mention about it is that your pursuit of medicine made you feel like you had more meaning in your life, something like that. Which is true!

Also, in regards to depression, from what you said, it doesn't seem like it had an extremely averse effects on your life (causing you to fail classes, do drugs, etc.) in which case there isn't anything to explain away. So it's really to your benefit not to mention it!