What is Depression?
Depression is a mental illness that is predominantly associated with the following symptoms: low mood, lack of energy and loss of enjoyment in our usual activities. Student doctors and practicing doctors can say these core symptoms of low mood, anergy and anhedonia quicker than saying pseudopseduohypoparathyroidism. But identifying these symptoms within oneself is a much slower process.
Depression during medical school is not a new phenomenon, and despite our understanding of mental health is improving, many student doctors are struggling daily with depression. There are various factors during medical school that can contribute to ill mental health:
- Lack of sleep due to a busy schedule.
- High expectations – from your yourself, medical school, parents, family friends, etc.
- Financial strain – the accumulation of student loans, balancing paid work and studies, etc.
- Emotional strain – wanting to provide the best care you can to patients.
- Personal responsibilities and commitments – being a parent, friendship commitments, relationship commitments, carer duties, etc.
- The intensity of constant assessments, persistent appraisals, exam after exam, etc.
- Unfortunately some environments have a stench of over-competitiveness, over-compensation, intimidation, etc.
- A new environment, new city, new country, new friends, etc. – medical school may be the first big change you have experienced in life so far.
So how can we lighten the load?
Discussing mental health is often thought of as taboo, both in the medical profession and public; therefore to speak of it, requires courage and encouragement (having both simultaneously is not easy).
So how can we lighten the load? How can we start healthy habits that lead to a healthy lifestyle?
At Medics’ Inn we do not claim to be psychiatrists, but we are experts in seeking help! That is what we urge you all to do.
If you are struggling with your work load…seek help.
If you are experiencing financial strain…seek help.
If you are second guessing a career in medicine…seek help.
If you are having difficulty balancing your responsibilities…seek help.
If you feel sad and lonely…seek help.
Seek help from those around you, your supervisor, your tutor, your personal GP/doctor, etc.
Sometimes, because we do not want to ‘bother’ anyone with our issues, we dig ourselves into a hole. But the earlier you seek help, the easier it will be to come out of that hole.
Photo Credit: PhotoPin