Psychiatric illnesses and med students


I saw this picture many years ago, probably around the time I started undergrad. Now that I’m actually a medical student and we’re in our psychiatry block, I can finally fully appreciate it.

As medical students we like to try to diagnose ourselves and psych is no exception. As we sit in lecture listening to our professors talk about the criteria for things like ADHD, anxiety, and depression, many of us start to wonder if we actually have some kind of disorder (Yeah, we’re paranoid too). I probably saw a dozen of Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and SnapChat pictures of a classmate pointing at our slides with a caption like, “Oh no!!! I meet the criteria for ____!!!”

Now while I know that a lot of those posts are just for laughs I can’t help but wonder if anyone in our class actually is depressed. Despite what people may think, there really is a huge issue with depression in medical students and physicians. I read some articles on medical student/physician suicides several months ago and it’s always surprising to me how individuals who were just about to start a promising career or who were already practicing successfully got to the point where they felt like they had to end it. Perhaps the saddest part is that no one- not even their friends or family- saw it coming.

I encourage you to read this article if you haven’t already.

Our school has decided to give us community service hours for fostering puppies and kittens. Surprisingly, a ton of my classmates have taken advantage of the opportunity. When I ask them why they decided to foster, they all said the same thing: “I thought it would make me happier”. Now that we’re all feeling the stress of class on top of boards, I think many of us are looking for ways to stay mentally healthy. I decided to join the bandwagon and have started fostering too. It sucked coming home from class, knowing that I would need to study for another 6-7 hours locked up in some study room. It especially sucked during an exam week.

Now that I’m fostering, I must admit that it’s nice coming home from a long day of class to be greeted by a furry creature.

It really does make me feel happier.




  1. I accidentally found this post.
    When you say that you’re a medical student, does it mean that you’ve faced actual patients? Here in Indonesia, we don’t have pre-med education.

    Psychiatry is interesting, isn’t it? My close friends diagnose me with ADD.

    Good luck with your pet. Is it puppy or kitten?

    1. In the United States medical school is 4 years long and your clinical years (when you start seeing patients) are during your third and fourth years. So I haven’t seen patients yet since I’m still in my second year.

      Thank you! It’s a kitten.

      1. Yes, high school is 4 years and then you usually do 4 years of premed. If you weren’t a science major in college then you may need to do a post-baccalaureate to complete the required science classes. That can take another year or two.

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