Medical students have the difficult task of learning through science and rigorous academic training to take care of others. Med students can suffer from many ailments including anxiety, stress or migraines or even worse. Being a doctor of any kind is quite simply about learning to make other people feel better, and it’s possible to heal your patient that’s the goal. Unfortunately, there are times when a patient doesn’t make it and that can feel devastating to a med student who is undergoing training, such as a resident. You are just learning and have a sense of optimism about the field. You want to help people, genuinely and seeing your patient die is a tragedy and can leave you feeling depressed.
According to The American Medical Student Association, med students are three times as likely to die by suicide than the rest of the general population. This figure is alarming; it’s a serious issue that needs to be addressed in our society. Depression kills people and med students are among its victims. That’s why it’s important as a med student to take actions to manage your mental health. Don’t neglect yourself when you are in the midst of helping others. Seeing traumatic incidents such as a person injured from a gunshot wound can be jarring and inevitably affect a med student’s mental health. Anyone would be impacted by this graphic image, but a med student’s goal is to help people and save lives. They are particularly vulnerable to these scenarios.
Self-care is imperative for those in the medical field and particularly medical students. One of the most helpful things a med student can do for their mental health is to see a therapist. There they can discuss their challenges and sort out if they are feeling depressed. Suicide prevention starts with mental health awareness. When you are aware of your feelings, you can fight against the dark intrusive lies that depression tells you. You can learn positive coping strategies such as reframing thoughts and using mindfulness to cope with difficult situations. If therapy isn’t enough, medications can be used to help treat depression. Med students are probably well aware of the benefits of medication for people living with depression and could be more open to treating their symptoms this way.
As a med student, you have an obligation to take care of yourself. This is important for a multitude of reasons; the most important being that you matter and the secondary reason is that you will be a more competent doctor when you do this. You can be there emotionally for your patients and give them the care that they need. Doctors save lives and as a med student, you have the chance to save your own life, don’t ignore that. Take care of yourself and be well so you can make others well too.