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  1. #1
    familydoc2b is offline Newbie
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    depression/anxiety while in medical school

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    I was wondering if any medical student on this forum ever experienced severe depression/anxiety before or during med school and how you dealt with it. I finally came to the understanding and out of denial that i have extreme anxiety/depression.

    I always seem pesimistic, tight muscles, choked up, cry for no reason, extremely indicessive (cant ever make up my mind with anything and when i do i always feel like i mad the wrong choice , in everything i do, even buying clothes or trivial stuff), always feel drained and tired , feel like i cant concentrate and focus (almost as if i have ADD), always feel agitated, trouble sleeping, overthinking and always worrying about stuff to the point that i dwell on it and it takes over my day, over react emotionally over small things, unable to stop worrying and thinking about stuff when i should be focusing in class), hard to wake up and feel drained when i wake up and dizzy.

    These are some of the symptoms i experienced. i feel stupid for feeling like this and actually mad that i have this disease. I was the type of person that thought that depression/anxiety is all in your head, and its a weakness. but the disease actually got worse year by year ever since undergrad, in the beginning i just thought it was having a bad day or college stress, but after i graduated it continued and got worse, and i couldnt snap out of my condition, i would stress so much that i couldnt work or when i would find i job i would think its the wrong decision and feel sufficated and that i needed to get out of it asap. its hard to explain this to anyone, my parents dont understand and i feel too drained to explain it becuase it almost seems impossible to describe how dibilitating and handicapping this disease is unless you experience it, even i who used to think those who seek pyschitric help were weak minded am shocked on how controlling this disease is, it made me waste two years of my life not able to work and overthinking and worrying about stuff, its just hard to explain.
    I know medicine is the only thing i want to do ever since i was a kid and the only field i can se emyself in, i am currently finally seeking treatment for my illness, i was extremely reluctant to start due to the fact of the stigma(sounds dumb but its hard to seek help or acknowledge this problem when your caught into it, its like a dark cloud over your head controlling your life), i also was scared that the depression/anxiety being on my medical record will result in future discrimination against me when it comes to starting medical school/residency, working, malpractice insurance, etc..., other reasons were that i didnt have the money to seek the help that this disease my cost and i knew applying for health insurance after my diagnoses will just increase my health care insurance premiems and the most important reason is that i was worried that the side effects of the meds will make me even worse esp when it came to my studies because i heard it can have extreme side effects such as loss of memory, always sleepy and getting tired, etc....

    anyhow i been on treatment for two weeks, so far it sucks, its getting worse for i think my doctor is trying drugs on me as a trial and error thing, so far he tryed zoloft 50mg which made me extremely sick and worse (tremor, sleep, loss of memory,etc...), and now he is trying paxil 20 mg which isnt really doing much, my doctor doesnt seem to be the greatest, but he agreed to treat me for free knowing my financial condition. i want to start med school next year for i am sick of wasting my life, and it only makes me worse seeing myife lose days and precious years. I am wondering if anyone is suffering or suffered from a similiar condition before or during medicall school, how it effected your studies, what treatment did you take and how long did it take to get better, whether the meds negatively effected your studies or your ability to focus and study effectively. i would also like to hear from med students with similar stories, how they went about treating their problem, what the best med/treatment they think worked for them, whether i am able to pursue my goal with this disease( i am sacared the anxiety will come again during my med school years and cause me to get panic attacks and more depression that i have to drop up and lose all the money i will lose with tution) Please message me in PM or post here to help me with my issue and give me advice, opinions, etc...

    I appreciate your time and posts so much.

  2. #2
    razorback831 is offline Member
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    ask him about.......

    ask your doctor about these drugs:
    first of all................prozac (celexa is better but more $)
    concerta (very very $ but very very very very good)

  3. #3
    zedpol is offline Member
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    don't give up hope

    Just a couple of comments, treating depression is kind of a hit or miss thing with drugs..basically it comes down to having someone on a drug and then start cycling through the various drugs until you guys end up finding one that works for you. Don't give up hope yet, it normally takes 6-8 weeks before you start getting the anti-depressive effects of the drugs...i know some of you out there will have anecdotal (sp?) reports of how so and so person felt better the next day...basically that has been shown to be a placebo effect. Another thing to be careful of with the SSRIs is overdosing, generally they are pretty safe drugs so the tendency is to push the dose up and up..i.e prozac is a good example of that, the medical profession has been overdosing people for years, it has an extremely long half life so you steadily build up a very high plasma concentration when dosing once a day. Anyways I wish i could help with some of the emotional issues but someone with similar experience is probably better qualified to address your concerns.

    Peace
    Drexel (4th year)

  4. #4
    Dru
    Dru is offline Super Moderator 511 points
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    onset and peaks of antidepressants

    Actually tricyclics and SSRI antidepressant medications usually start to work in 3 weeks, and the full clinical effect is realized after 6 weeks. This is important to remember when dosing is not only initiated, but when medications are changed or doses adjusted. Patients' thresholds for effects and tolerance may differ widely.
    Moderator - Ross University Forum

  5. #5
    zedpol is offline Member
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    oops

    I stand corrected
    Drexel (4th year)

  6. #6
    Mo716 is offline Junior Member
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    I feel your pain

    I'm a third semester student here at Ross and I've been on 200mg of Zoloft for the past five or six years. That's the highest dose that the manufacturer recommends. I've spent alot of time at the psychiatrist's office over my problems and I feel that as long as I stay on my meds. I still get depressive episodes every now and then which sometimes last for hours, and even days at a time. The best thing to do for them is to remember that the way you're feeling is not your fault. It's a disease.

    As far as being depressed at Ross goes, it happens quite frequently. The rigors of med school are enough to make anyone depressed, but having to tolerate this island on top of the depression makes it much worse. The main problem is that there really isn't much to do here except study, and because of that, people tend to dwell on their problems and analyze them more than they should. That's my biggest problem. If you're on anti-depressants, you should bring enough medicine to last you the whole semester because they don't have Prozac, Zoloft, or most other drugs like that in any of the island drug stores. It's also really important to stay consistent when taking these types of meds. I remember when I actually lost my medicine bottle during the beginning of my first semester and I had to go without my meds for 7 days. That was rough.

    If/when you get to Ross and if you need someone to talk to about depressive episodes or anything else, the best guy here is Dr. Bolaski. He's the school counselor, he's extremely smart and insightful, and you'll feel better after seeing him. Dr. ****** is the psychiatrist at school, but it's really pointless to go to him. I've gone to him a few times and his usual reply to everything is "What does your doctor back home say about this?" He's not a very good shrink and even if he writes you a prescription for something, chances are that no pharmacy on the island will have the meds he prescribes. This semester I'm also finding out that he's a pretty mediocre professor, but I'll save that story for another day.

    Also, posting your thought on ValueMD is also a good thing to do. This is exactly the kind of thing we should be talking about on this forum, and you'll find that there are alot of other people at Ross who suffer from the same problems that you do and share your concerns.

  7. #7
    ques is offline Junior Member
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    familydoc2b

    I saw your message and it caught my eye while I was scrolling the Ross posts. Although I am not a physician, I thought my knowledge into some of your issues may help.

    First, it makes sense what you said, anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand...a rollercoaster (if this analogy helps to clarify). After working as a Tech in a lock down psych unit, and in neurosurgical and psychiatric research I've seen many patients, (who I must add were all people and all had a human component even in the midst of somthing as devastating as chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia). I personally believe that behavior stems from a neurochemical, neuroanatomical and physiological functioning of the brain, but with that being said environment certainly plays a role, and some alterantive therapies besides medication may help you.

    First, ditch the paroxetine, (Paxil). I did a paper (literature review) on SSRIs and withdrawl effects as an undergraduate. Paxil had the worst WD effects...and I'd have to refer to my paper for the remaining ones, but Zoloft, I believe, was the worst on patient's GI system. The half lifes previously mentioned are an issue.

    Prozac seems to be the magic compound, but is perhaps overprescribed, sometimes in place of a kleenex-- if you will.

    What I would do if I were you, first, is EXCERCISE. Anything that gets the heart pumping and the brain thumping will reduce your anxiety and elevate your mood. Then I would start medication therapy..AT A LOW DOSE, (no greater than 10mg), remember these are drugs designed to acton pscyhotropically directly on your brain, and because you need to be thinking clearly, crisply and quickly. Do not just increase your dosage because your not starting to feel better....give it time.

    Don't read the side effects of the medication you take. Every medication, even antiobiotics have side effects. Just take it and if you notice something (i.e, tremor, GI problems) then reduce the dose, and if you're not feeling less anxious, and with a more positive outlook on your life (after at least 2-3 weeks) then switch medications.

    Any SSRI will make you feel very, very, anxious at first, this is normal. Keep taking it, and keep seeing your psychiatrist. Also, be aware of good psychiatry and bad psychiatry. Make sure you have bloodwork done before you start any medication to rule out a medical problem (i.e, a thyroid condition).

    And the final piece of advice, there are alternatives to medication therapy. You can also try cognitive behavioral therapy...but I would do this in conjunction to seeing your psychiatrist.

    Remember, patience is a virtue. Do not rush into medical school without taking the time to get the treatment you need and start feeling better. You can suceed in medical school, just make sure you're prepared mentally (academically and with your self esteem intact).

    And my last piece of advice. Don't keep telling yourself it's a disease and you're sick, and what will people think. Go out and live. Your brain chemistry is a little different than the student next to you, who's is a little different than the student they're next to. That makes us individuals. I am not romanticizing any freestanding psychiatric components, (nor saying you have one) but hope to get across to you that you are probably not as depressed or anxious as you think you are. You need to put it out of your mind, but at the same time don't forget it's there, and be aware of how you feel. (i.e, don't stop taking your meds to soon, or stop going to your therapy). This is a very delicate balance.

    Now the most important part. It's perfectly normal to wake up some days and feel a little blue, or get a liitle nervous. A little anxiety will help you in medical school get things done, and a little down time will help you relax. But, take control of your emotions now. Seek the right treatment, and inquire into new modes of treatment both pharmacological and cognitive based. For example, I believe there is a new drug out that not only blocks the re-uptake of serotonin, but also acts on norepinephrine receptors.

    When you figure it out, and you will with some help, keep excercising, moderate any ETOH intake (i.e. keep it nil to small) and keep an optimistic outlook. And above all else, like I said before, be patient. The brain takes a long time to heal, and with the right treatment yours will.

  8. #8
    Baditude is offline Senior Member
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    Been there.....

    Hey there,
    Don't let this trouble get to you! I have been where you are and I am currently doing and feeling great but it took sometime to get here! I was a chronic pain sufferer for 16 years and as I am sure you can imagine it caused sever depression and anxiety I expereinced all the things you describe and more. I currently take Celexa and Wellbutrin and the combination works great! I thought the depression and anxiety would go away when the pain issue was taken care of but it seems that I still need the medication to get by day to day. I don't have any of the side effects that most people complain about but I do occasionaly have short term memory loss if I am extremely stressed. I feel great most days and I have no complaints. I am anxious to start my medical training and I have no doubts about being able to handle the stress or work load.
    You can handle this just give your self time to adjust to the medication and you may have to make changes along the way. And remember you have spent some time feeling bad so it might take awhile to adjust to feeling "normal" again! Good luck and if you want to talk to someone who has been there PM me anytime

  9. #9
    oc23 is offline Senior Member
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    depression

    there's only one thing i can say about this....

    if you have a spouse or are in a serious relationship, it's best if they come down here with you.

    good luck to you. i hope things turn out alright.

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