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Possible anxiety disorder


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2 years of med school and a couple of preceptors/tutors have mentioned that I might have social anxiety.  Alternatively, I might have avoidant personality disorder or ASD (self diagnosed). I'm not yet looking for a diagnosis or treatment, but I think this has ruined what could have been an amazing medical school experience. I don't socialize much, have few friends to study/travel with and I'm increasingly homesick. I'm doing well in exams and involved in a couple ECs so that's a plus. 

I'm disappointed because it could have been so much more than just a means to a degree as it is now. It has helped me grow as a person and professional but I probably won't look back and think "wow look at all the great memories."

Did med school end up being the best four years of your life? I haven't started clerkship and at this rate med school will be about as memorable as high school (ie. not a lot). 

Not trying to be a downer but I just need to vent.  

 

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Medical school definitely will not have been "the best four years of my life", i find the younger classmates whom that would fit as the experience, are those that typically didn't get the chance to do much before medical school and are still in that cliquey high school phase. Nothing wrong with it, to each their own!

Do you have friends outside of medicine? Did you end up moving OOP(judging by homesick comment). What are things you DO like to do? Focusing on things that you enjoy and seeing if you can meet people through those can be a start. Talking to an arms-length professional like a psychiatrist could be a start as well if its something you want to explore more(not necessarily go straight to diagnostics and treatment either). 

What it could have been or isn't is a dangerous slope to go down on, I would focus on what you WANT it to be and how you can take some small, manageable steps to improve your situation.  Do you enjoy your ECs? is it a way for you to socialize and meet people? Then great, do more of it!  It is hard, especially in medical school to honestly make good friends. Sure, many people will have lots of superficial friends, but not necessarily deep meaningful ones - medical school can be busy, and medical students are the first to enter self-preservation mode and focus on themselves. 

Venting is a good thing, and maybe that is all you need, and deep down you're actually happy with how things are from a personal perspective..but some incongruence with what you think medical school, or this stage of your life "should" be like.   Or maybe you truly do want to make more friends, and feel closer connections that you may/may not currently be having, and just need some help to get the right tools or circumstances to begin developing them. 

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3 hours ago, CYP450 said:

2 years of med school and a couple of preceptors/tutors have mentioned that I might have social anxiety.  Alternatively, I might have avoidant personality disorder or ASD (self diagnosed). I'm not yet looking for a diagnosis or treatment, but I think this has ruined what could have been an amazing medical school experience. I don't socialize much, have few friends to study/travel with and I'm increasingly homesick. I'm doing well in exams and involved in a couple ECs so that's a plus. 

I'm disappointed because it could have been so much more than just a means to a degree as it is now. It has helped me grow as a person and professional but I probably won't look back and think "wow look at all the great memories."

Did med school end up being the best four years of your life? I haven't started clerkship and at this rate med school will be about as memorable as high school (ie. not a lot). 

Not trying to be a downer but I just need to vent.  

 

Not gonna lie pre-clerkship was probably the best time of my life, but that varies person to person. For me, it was the first time that I didn't have to worry about my grades and exams and that was huge. It also helped meeting classmates who were probably more similar to me than I've ever had, but the party had to end and the pedal had to hit the metal for clerkship. I just want to show you how varied med school exp is as the above posters have all mentioned different experiences. Everywhere you go you'll either fit in or don't fit in and that definitely does determine how much you enjoy where you are. It may get better in the future and if you realize you want nothing to do with your medical colleagues in the future, pick a specialty that lets you get out of that environment as fast as possible. 

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Pretty relatable experience. If you have any doubt, go read r/medicalschool. Med school is definitely an adjustment with adopting a new professional role, expectations, ongoing evaluations, a whirlwind of new information to consume, and so much more, all the while nestled alongside a number of type A folks. Not to mention if you moved OOP for medical school and left behind much of your social network, that would also be a key contributor.

It's important to make time to reconnect with your hobbies/interests, improve your sleep hygiene, take up some form of relaxation exercises, socialize either in person or otherwise w/ friends outside of medicine, exercise and eat well.

Also remember that there is no single way to "do" medical school. It would likely help to drop the self-imposed expectation that medical school has to be a certain way. 

If you're not happy with the way things are going as is, then absolutely take the time to make changes in the way you go about your life to better reflect your values and what you would like to get out of the experience. If upon reflection you realize that things aren't so bad and it was a mismatch of expectations and your experience, then let go of those expectations and allow things to unfold as they will.

At the end of the day, medical school is a transient experience where it's really just about getting through it and onto the residency track that you find most suitable to your interests. Beyond that, medicine itself is just a job and it's essential that you maintain your connections outside of the field in order to protect your sanity.

Be well.

 

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I agree about the mismatch of expectations. It's understandable that adjusting to a new city and the "med school bubble" would be stressful. Though clerkship offers some intense and unique experiences, there is no inherent reason that preclerkship should be 'amazing' or any better than high school. In fact, I wouldn't wish for med school to have been the best years of my life - that would mean it would be all downhill from then on :) Certainly the 'fit' and camaraderie was much greater for me during residency. 

I'm a bit more concerned if your preceptors have initiated a discussion with you about social anxiety. I would understand a desire to avoid being labelled with a psychological condition. However, it's not necessary to be medicalized in order to get help for social anxiety, which many people have to some degree or another. University counselling services or your medical association's physician help line would be a good start. I would encourage you to look into the resources that are available to you as a student. Cognitive behavioural therapy can be quite effective and will help you do better in your rotations (the other potential problem, if issues with social interactions are noticeable to your preceptors). PM if you want to chat further.

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I did move from OOP; I doesn't help knowing that I was accepted in my home med school but chose to go elsewhere. I still ask myself if I stayed home would I have meet more friends, memories - significant others perhaps? I can't escape that mindset and even worse is that I don't want to.  

Years later I'll look back and realize how lucky I am to get this far - until then I just have to re-evaluate my expectations. 

I know that I have to work on anxiety and writing this post might be that first step. I am doing meditation on and off as well and will try to keep up with hobbies to stay grounded.

Thanks for the insights - I've been dwelling on this a lot but not in a helpful, reflective way. 

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Based on a cursory read of what little information has been provided, I don't think you have social anxiety disorder. This is likely some degree of baseline introversion combined with mild general anxiety due to rumination and a history of difficult adjustment. What you're describing is still largely within normal, especially if you're otherwise doing well in school, and even involved in ECs. Some pretty good suggestions have been made above, and are worth investigating further if you're so inclined.

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52 minutes ago, CYP450 said:

I did move from OOP; I doesn't help knowing that I was accepted in my home med school but chose to go elsewhere. I still ask myself if I stayed home would I have meet more friends, memories - significant others perhaps? I can't escape that mindset and even worse is that I don't want to.  

Years later I'll look back and realize how lucky I am to get this far - until then I just have to re-evaluate my expectations. 

I know that I have to work on anxiety and writing this post might be that first step. I am doing meditation on and off as well and will try to keep up with hobbies to stay grounded.

Thanks for the insights - I've been dwelling on this a lot but not in a helpful, reflective way. 

Hey OP, I also decidedly moved OOP for med knowing that I could have chosen to stay in my home province. It adds a layer of stress on top of dealing with med school, and you shouldn't fall into the fallacy of needing to feel "happy" or enjoying your med school years. I support your steps: meditating and keeping up with your hobbies because they are also things that define you for you, so do not like med consume you. You'll find your happiness elsewhere and where you do, you will find like-minds :) Rooting for ya!

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