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dentman123123

Having Doubts About Dentistry

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Hey all,

 

I just received an acceptance into a canadian dental school, and I am very glad of this fact. However, I realize that while I exuded confidence during my interview, I am actually a wreck in terms of self confidence. For one, I suffer from severe social anxiety alongside generalized anxiety, and I also suffer from depression. And to be honest, I really don't like interacting with people all that much. Should I drop my spot and pursue something else, as I am ill fitted to the profession Or should I stick it out, hoping some of my traits may improve over time. Also, I get very anxious around women, since I have never had sex or had a relationship, although I am over 25. As such, I'm afraid if I ever encounter female patients, I will get nervous and mess up. Should I seek help.

 

Thanks 

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There are a few things you could do before thinking of switching for another career. First of all, you could take a deferred acceptance and take a year off to deal with the issues at hand. Have you shadowed dentists? If not, you should consider doing that to see how you feel interacting with patients and other dentists. You could even take some time to get some counselling away from the school environment to see if it helps you and then go to dental school. If you feel like dentistry isn't for you, you can drop the spot a year down the road and pursue another profession! Good luck!

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Hey all,

 

I just received an acceptance into a canadian dental school, and I am very glad of this fact. However, I realize that while I exuded confidence during my interview, I am actually a wreck in terms of self confidence. For one, I suffer from severe social anxiety alongside generalized anxiety, and I also suffer from depression. And to be honest, I really don't like interacting with people all that much. Should I drop my spot and pursue something else, as I am ill fitted to the profession Or should I stick it out, hoping some of my traits may improve over time. Also, I get very anxious around women, since I have never had sex or had a relationship, although I am over 25. As such, I'm afraid if I ever encounter female patients, I will get nervous and mess up. Should I seek help.

 

Thanks 

Hey! Don't think like that. You worked so hard to get where you are at. The reason you got your spot is because you deserve it and have what it takes to be a good dentist. Eventually you can get comfortable around women. Try to make slow steps towards being social and easing anxiety. In terms of women patients, just think of them as your mother or sister and try to provide the best care to them...that would help.

 

Good luck.

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I'll give a frank opinion here.

 

The first year of dental school was tough for me. I had gone through some crap in the half year or so leading up to my acceptance which really turned my life upside down. As a result I had some trouble adjusting; I was angry a lot, antisocial, I was super stressed and out of it. I am by no means saying this is equivalent to what you're going through, because it isn't, but I just wanted to point out that I entered with a less-than-stellar mindset.

 

I learned how to deal with these things and improve myself over time, but there is some part of me that thinks dental school could be a bit of a double-edged sword.

 

Dental school is inherently tight-knit, and it's a small world. You have to invest yourself 110% into it as well because it genuinely consumes your life; you will have little time for much else. So your classmates, fellow colleagues & professors really end up becoming your family. Whether this is a good thing or not depends on what you make of it. It could be stressful to you, given that you say you don't really enjoy interacting with people, but at the same time, it could be a boon, since the framework of dental school will give your social interaction some sort of context. You have a role; you're a dental student, so is everyone else, and you're all there to do the same thing. Even when you're in clinic, it doesn't really matter who your patient is; you have a role to fill, and that can provide structure, legitimacy and normalcy to the interaction you might find yourself initially anxious of.

 

I will say this: you need to get along with your classmates if you want to survive dental school. Being the odd one out, burning bridges, generally being unpleasant is not a productive means of getting through it. I would know because I spent my first year and a half or so being exactly that person that I really didn't want to be. I had to dig myself out of the hole and learn to shelve whatever baggage I had because it would have been detrimental not to. As a result, I can still say I really enjoyed dental school. 

 

In the same vein, dentistry itself is a career where you don't necessarily have to be social, but you have to be sociable. You are asking patients to give you  money so that you can stick scalpels and power tools in their face (hi Malkynn). That's a hard sell. But even the most objectively awkward, socially bungled people can do it, because there's a framework of trust in place. It's a unique feeling, being the trusted caregiver. I'll be honest in that I like it. I like the appreciation patients show, their gratefulness, the investment they put in me because I invest in them. It feels good and it's motivating, but for me, it came naturally. For you, it may be a battle.

 

I do think I could have done dental school better though. If I took a year off, spent some time doing something else, got my head on straight, and then went in, I might have really capitalized even more.

 

I don't think you should give up on the career. Why? Because first and foremost, that is allowing your anxiety to take ill-conceived control of your life. The goal here is to not let it do that. Engage your anxiety in a skirmish of attrition, and don't let it make decisions for you. YOU make decisions for you.

 

The suggestion for a possible deferral is a good one. I think even discussing the issue with the school may be wise; be open and honest, because it's the mature thing to do. They already liked you enough to admit you, you can show even more responsibility by telling them you need a bit of time in order to give them your best.

 

PM me if you want to discuss more. Best of luck. You'll get through this.

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OP, please know that you are not alone. Seek social support. Maybe some professional help. It's helped me tons!

 

I think what's unique about your situation is that this is something that can really make your life better. If you don't face females/socializing in dental school, you'll have to face it elsewhere. My opinion is to

 

-TAKE THE ACCEPTANCE (you worked so hard!)

-Start getting help

-improve your confidence by whatever means advised

-recognize this as an opportunity to flip your life right side up instead of a burden

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@OP, although I'm not a dental student, I can attest that the VAST majority of medical students feel like an imposter upon acceptance, and even well after 2-3 years of med school. Before getting in, most people think ''oh wow, people trust me enough to be treating people later on?'' And in 4th year of med school, it's like ''oh wow in 1 year I will introduce myself as Dr. X and take calls at the hospital?''. So I just want to reassure you that it's just a very very common feeling among med students, and I would *ASSUME* that it's similar in dental school as well.

 

Although you might assume that many dental and medical students are the party type of people, once you start, you know that many students actually aren't that outgoing. They studied a lot in order to get that GPA, and once in dent and med, they were no different, and were not party animals. In fact, there are definitely students who never or practically never showed up to parties or social events. But then, most med and dent students aren't party animals, and you certainly don't need to be a party animal type of personality to be a DMD or MD, although being more outgoing/extrovert certainly helps in general, in such fields where you are in contact with many patients.

 

(I'm just speaking from personal experience, where during the 1st year and half at McGill, dent and med students had almost the same curriculum.)

 

Regarding your anxiety and depression, nobody can really say anything about it here on the forum, but it might be worthwile to talk to a mental health professional.

 

Re: social anxiety around women, *it's only a suggestion*, try to hang out more with girls in general, and try to learn from guys who are "successful" with women (like grooming habit, body language, etc..) 

 

You were offered a seat in dental school. You deserve it fully. Good luck! 

Edited by cleanup

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Anxiety and depression are treatable! I suggest talking to psychiatrist to discuss your treatment options. The most effective and common treatments for social anxiety are CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and pharmaceuticals such as Sertraline and Effexor. Consider doing CBT first and if its ineffective then resort to meds as last option. These drugs have bad side effects but usually resolve themselves after few weeks. I think the best way to tackle social anxiety to face your fears! Expose yourself to fearful and anxiety causing situations. You said you have a of fear talking to women, then why dont you face this fear and start conversations with women. Just start talking to them and dont try to hide your anxiety! Whats the worst that could happen?? nothing! I would like to mention again that I am not a doctor and you should consult with a psychiatrist to help you with your situation. Best of luck to you!

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Go to las vegas or some populated city for a month before the school starts and start talking to random strangers everyday. Cold approach women and laugh at all the awkward interaction you have instead of obsessing over little details about what you should've said etc. Drastic times call for drastic measures!

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I would urge you to seek professional consultation for your anxiety issues.

These issues are not dentistry specific so I don't believe dropping out is a solution.

I would urge you to stay in the program.  Once you have your degree, there are many facets of dentistry that you can work in if your anxiety issues continue.  For example, specialties like oral pathology have very little patient contact.  Many branches of dental research present the same option.  Getting a dental degree doesn't necessarily mean you have to work chair side treating patients on a daily basis.

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I would urge you to seek professional consultation for your anxiety issues.

These issues are not dentistry specific so I don't believe dropping out is a solution.

I would urge you to stay in the program.  Once you have your degree, there are many facets of dentistry that you can work in if your anxiety issues continue.  For example, specialties like oral pathology have very little patient contact.  Many branches of dental research present the same option.  Getting a dental degree doesn't necessarily mean you have to work chair side treating patients on a daily basis.

This is true. If you really don't like patient contact, you can work in academia, go into oral pathology/medicine or even oral radiology. 

 

... or orthodontics bahah.

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Lots of people have given some great advice re: the generalized anxiety/depression stuff, so I thought I'd touch on the anxiety around women specifically. Do you have any female friends? If not, that would be a great place to start. I would recommend trying to hang out in a larger group comprised of both men and women to ease yourself into it. IMO having a solid, supportive group of male and female friends will help a lot and you'll be able to see women as "just another patient" without getting anxious. Who knows, maybe dentistry will be the perfect place to find such friends since you'll already have some common ground! Good luck!

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Dentman123,

I think you should stick it out. You've come along way already and i think the interview speaks volumes about what you're capable of. Anxiety can cripple your ability to recognize the good qualities you have. If you're able to convey confidence and did well enough on the interviews that they think you're competent, then maybe it's just a matter of learning to cope with the anxiety internally, because externally it's probably a lot less apparent than you realize. Perhaps you need to trust the image of you that other people see, more so than what you think they see. This is where CBT can come in (as someone else mentioned) where you would be given tasks of actually sort of quantifying the anxiety, testing it and getting a better idea of how severe it really is. Often, with CBT (I am not an expert on it whatsoever, but I'm telling you what I know about it), people realize during the treatment that they sort of let the manifestations of their worries get the best of them. For you, you might realize more that people don't see the anxiety. I believe that would help immensely. Now, I'm saying this because I've struggled with varying degrees of anxiety too. I never have required treatment for it, but it's something that bothers me regardless. I've learned to control it better and realize that people don't notice it as much as I would think. And from my experience, the social implications of people seeing my anxiety were probably some of the biggest worries I had. When you exit a social situation and can tell yourself "ok, that didn't actually go as badly as I thought", it's a small (but very significant) step towards knowing yourself better and being able to better cope.

I'm starting dental school in a few weeks too, and I'm nervous about the whole thing. It's been a lot of hard work to get here and I'm telling myself that I can do it. It's going to be a multifaceted learning experience. And im sure you will see other people struggle in areas where you probably succeed more.

Remember when you were most excited about your dreams of being a dentist? Don't let your anxieties thwart that. In my opinion, it would be better to get help, try your hardest in school, work at making new friends, learning the skills required to treat patients and subsequently, hopefully, overcome your fears. Imagine how great of a pay off that will be for you internally. It's much better than pulling the ripcord now, and never having given yourself the chance at your dream. Check your name too, you signed up as Dentman for a reason ;)

 

I wish you all the best.

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I agree with what most people have said, and I have decided to go through with dental school, as it would be a shame to give up my spot after working so hard. I am also going to look into some counseling, and if that doesn't work, I may take medication. I have also decided to try to expose myself to new, uncomfortable situations in order to improve my social comfort level. Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who responded to my message and showed support and understanding. I hope to run into more people like yourselves in dental school! I will be sure to keep you up to date on my progress. 

 

Cheers

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I agree with what most people have said, and I have decided to go through with dental school, as it would be a shame to give up my spot after working so hard. I am also going to look into some counseling, and if that doesn't work, I may take medication. I have also decided to try to expose myself to new, uncomfortable situations in order to improve my social comfort level. Lastly, I just want to thank everyone who responded to my message and showed support and understanding. I hope to run into more people like yourselves in dental school! I will be sure to keep you up to date on my progress.

 

Cheers

Good for you man!!

 

All the best :)

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