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Thread: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

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    Cadet zocdae's Avatar
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    Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Say for example I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 17 as a result of a physical assault, and later get cleared of that depression 6 - 12 months later with no signs of it afterwards, would I still be all fine to become a doctor? Thank you for any help.

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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by zocdae View Post
    Say for example I was diagnosed with depression at the age of 17 as a result of a physical assault, and later get cleared of that depression 6 - 12 months later with no signs of it afterwards, would I still be all fine to become a doctor? Thank you for any help.
    You obviously can, but as a doctor you're constantly surrounded by/listening to patients' illnesses/problems which are undoubtedly depressive.. which could just provoke depression further. But it's not too big of a deal, it is curable (obviously from your experience) and just gotta learn to separate your work life from your own personal life. But it's not all depressive, what mainly avoids that (I presume) is that it's a rewarding career and physicians feel heaps good/accomplished knowing they help people/save lives on a daily basis.
    Last edited by captainneuro; 16 Nov 2017 at 8:10 PM.
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabbabbby View Post
    You obviously can, but as a doctor you're constantly surrounded by/listening to patients' illnesses/problems which are undoubtedly depressive.. which could just provoke depression further. But it's not too big of a deal, it is curable (obviously from your experience) and just gotta learn to separate your work life from your own personal life. But it's not all depressive, what mainly avoids that (I presume) is that it's a rewarding career and physicians feel heaps good/accomplished knowing they help people/save lives on a daily basis.
    You most definitely can; there's nothing preventing you from enrolling in a medical degree, graduating, and being admitted to practice in spite of a previous mental illness.

    However, as sabbabby stated, I think any aspiring doctor should think about the potential implications that practising as a doctor might have on his/her health in the future. Crucially, any health practitioner in NSW who seeks medical assistance for a mental health issue must, by law, be reported to AHPRA (the Australia Healthcare Practitioner Regulatory Authority). As this article discusses, this can create significant disincentives for practising doctors to seek assistance for any mental health issues they may be facing. In other words, if you are found have depression whilst you are a doctor, there is the possibility of restrictions being placed on your practice.
    Last edited by laodeming; 17 Nov 2017 at 7:32 PM.
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Was your depression caused by the people around you or by yourself? If it's the former then it might be tough being in the medical life.

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    Member captainneuro's Avatar
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueGas View Post
    Was your depression caused by the people around you or by yourself? If it's the former then it might be tough being in the medical life.
    I'd assume from the other people, since it did stem from physical assault
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    Exalted Member BlueGas's Avatar
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by sabbabbby View Post
    I'd assume from the other people, since it did stem from physical assault
    Ah yeah didn't see the physical assault part.

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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Yes you can.

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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Quote Originally Posted by laodeming View Post
    Crucially, any health practitioner in NSW who seeks medical assistance for a mental health issue must, by law, be reported to AHPRA (the Australia Healthcare Practitioner Regulatory Authority). As this article discusses, this can create significant disincentives for practising doctors to seek assistance for any mental health issues they may be facing. In other words, if you are found have depression whilst you are a doctor, there is the possibility of restrictions being placed on your practice.
    Some clarfications to the above: It is reportable if the condition (whether mental or otherwise) is believed to impair said doctor's practice - this qualification is also made in the article. Therefore, a diagnosis of depression doesn't lend itself automatically to restrictions.

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    Senior Member Kat92's Avatar
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    If you have an account on medstudentsonline, you might want to check out some of the discussions we have been having there
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    Senior Member Havox's Avatar
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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    Short answer is yes although the concurrent observation is that medical students and doctors suffer from some of the highest rates of depression amongst the general populace.

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    Re: Can you still become a doctor if you were diagnosed with depression in the past?

    I have anxiety and depression and have had so for the past 7 years. I think Schmeag's clarification is important to note, because it is a common misconception that anyone found to have a mental health disorder is reportable to AHPRA. That misconception, among several other things, is what makes medical students and doctors apprehensive about seeking help or talking about these things. I think having your own experiences of depression will give you a unique insight into that kind of world that many of your future patients will be living in, not to mention your ability to practise empathy in everything that you do. I remember speaking about my own experiences of mental health in my medicine interviews (with apprehension of course) but I think that being spokespeople for a sadly 'taboo' topic is what it will take to start shifting perspectives.
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