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Experiences with mental illness during medical school


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Hey everyone,

I was looking around and it seemed like a lot of the threads were older, but I'd love to ask if anyone was comfortable sharing their experiences with mental illness during medical school/residency and what it was like.

I'm still a pre-clerk but have had some bad depression & anxiety (which I am getting treatment for, counseling, etc.), but it's still incredibly difficult to deal with in a very high-achieving environment. I'm not so interested in how it affects your applications, etc, and disclosing as there was a thread on that earlier.

As some of you may be well aware, mental illness can feel extremely isolating so I'm sure some people lurking around would also benefit from hearing stories. If people would be open to sharing their story dealing with the adversity in medical school, experiences with medication, clerkship experiences with mental illness, motivation to study while ill, how to 'take it easy' / go slower compared to others, specialty choices with an illness, etc., I think it would be super useful and motivating. 

Thanks in advance!!

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Hi I don’t have any personal experience but 3 ppl in my class took some time off for depression and two ppl joined us from the yr above. One of them I was friends with and we would talk a lot, we would discuss careers, we would study together, share notes etc. I think having a good friend base/ support system is key. My buddy matched into family and the other person who joined us after taking time off matched into internal so it has worked out for them you can say. I hope this helps I think time you spend with like minded ppl going thru Med school and supporting each other is the best thing we can do, make it less isolating in the long run.

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You are probably not going to find many people willing to discuss this openly. 

The problem the profession is stuck in is that to decrease stigma, people have to stand up and talk about these things, but nobody will talk for fear of stigma. 

Which is understandable. Once you’ve experienced retaliation/stigmatization, as I have, you get very hesitant to speak in any detail. 

And learners are the most vulnerable with respect to this. 

I’ve chatted with many people by PM over the years but mostly people won’t want to share openly. 

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On 6/18/2019 at 7:17 PM, ellorie said:

You are probably not going to find many people willing to discuss this openly. 

The problem the profession is stuck in is that to decrease stigma, people have to stand up and talk about these things, but nobody will talk for fear of stigma. 

Which is understandable. Once you’ve experienced retaliation/stigmatization, as I have, you get very hesitant to speak in any detail. 

And learners are the most vulnerable with respect to this. 

I’ve chatted with many people by PM over the years but mostly people won’t want to share openly. 

I agree with this. I think a lot of learners and staff deal with mental illness but there are serious consequences from disclosure that really disincentivize individuals from being honest. It's especially hard as a learner when you have no power and are subject to the whims of the system. 

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On 6/17/2019 at 8:40 AM, MBDTF said:

Hey everyone,

I was looking around and it seemed like a lot of the threads were older, but I'd love to ask if anyone was comfortable sharing their experiences with mental illness during medical school/residency and what it was like.

I'm still a pre-clerk but have had some bad depression & anxiety (which I am getting treatment for, counseling, etc.), but it's still incredibly difficult to deal with in a very high-achieving environment. I'm not so interested in how it affects your applications, etc, and disclosing as there was a thread on that earlier.

As some of you may be well aware, mental illness can feel extremely isolating so I'm sure some people lurking around would also benefit from hearing stories. If people would be open to sharing their story dealing with the adversity in medical school, experiences with medication, clerkship experiences with mental illness, motivation to study while ill, how to 'take it easy' / go slower compared to others, specialty choices with an illness, etc., I think it would be super useful and motivating. 

Thanks in advance!!

I think that the best advice is that you get a community family physician, not affiliated with academics, who can treat you objectively and refer you to specialists or for counselling.

You can seek university health advice that knowing that they will be concerned about your ability to practice and communicate with your Dean if needed 

It is always best to seek a third party care compared to your undergraduate medical office, PGME office and PHP; as they are worried about their own liability and patient safety. 

I can count a number of times that my colleagues are put on mandatory medical leave and needed to be cleared for work after thorough assessments after they disclosed their medical and mental illnesses to the faculty members. Or my colleagues' license were delayed because they are required by the college to be sent to the PHP for ongoing monitoring. They want to help you but they are also evaluating you, and they want to ensure patient safety. 

Mental health is very stigmatizing in our profession as ellorie pointed out; be extremely careful to whom you disclose to. 

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On 6/22/2019 at 3:06 PM, LittleDaisy said:

I think that the best advice is that you get a community family physician, not affiliated with academics, who can treat you objectively and refer you to specialists or for counselling.

You can seek university health advice that knowing that they will be concerned about your ability to practice and communicate with your Dean if needed 

It is always best to seek a third party care compared to your undergraduate medical office, PGME office and PHP; as they are worried about their own liability and patient safety. 

I can count a number of times that my colleagues are put on mandatory medical leave and needed to be cleared for work after thorough assessments after they disclosed their medical and mental illnesses to the faculty members. Or my colleagues' license were delayed because they are required by the college to be sent to the PHP for ongoing monitoring. They want to help you but they are also evaluating you, and they want to ensure patient safety. 

Mental health is very stigmatizing in our profession as ellorie pointed out; be extremely careful to whom you disclose to. 

Never discuss (except to a non-academic, neutral, completely third party physician) and never disclose (unless legally obligated and even then, consult a lawyer first and only disclose the minimal legally required).

It's sad but this is the worst of all professions. The only way to protect yourself is to assume the worst in every situation. 

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