PhD Student Depression & Anxiety: Dealing With Mental Health Issues During Your PhD

hello this is dr. day mascot talking to you about reciprocity calm the e is written or the three and in this particular video I actually want to talk to you about PhD student depression and anxiety and really I want to get into dealing with these mental health issues and a lot of PhD students get I myself included so if you don't know I'm actually a professor of innovation strategy in entrepreneurship and doing a PhD is really dark and you know kind of not not so nice sometimes and before I go forward I really wanted to mention that if you're having any sort of really dark thoughts and you know you're thinking about suicide or anything like that please make sure that you do call the national suicide prevention hotline one eight hundred two seven three eight two five five you know it's really serious stuff that you go do that but dealing with these kind of negative emotions depression and anxiety is a real thing during the ph.d process and there's there's a number of different reasons for that you know the first thing is when you do a PhD you do start off at the lowest and when you are a first year PhD student you are at the lowest end of the status ladder right so you there there's there's a ladder in academia if you don't know that you start off with the you know lower you know PhD student and then you go to your a B B which is after your comprehensive exams and then you go and you become an assistant professor associate professor and a full professor and this latter when you're at the bottom of the ladder and everybody's correcting you and to be honest you don't know a lot at that moment and you don't realize you that you don't know a lot at that moment so you're constantly getting corrected for your ideas it does eat away at your your you know your at your self-esteem at you at your personality I myself I wanted to I think this is an important thing to talk about so I went through these very negative depression moments as well and a lot of academia academics go through this it doesn't matter what you're in you know if you're in a business school within your department of sociology whether you're in science whatever it is you go through these negative emotions a fair bit it's just kind of part of the process because there is this negative emotions that you have or this sort of correcting actions that happen throughout it and then the other thing that you do is you spend a lot of time with your own thoughts and you know one of the things that I've learned recently what sort of leads to poor mental health is sort of wandering thoughts and having this idea having ideas thinking in your head all the time and that's just kind of part of the job is that what you have to do is constantly be thinking on your own and this kind of really does eat away at you so how can you actually deal with some of these things these are kind of the issue these are kind of the techniques that I have learnt to help myself deal with some of these negative emotions and I still get them from time to time anxiety for sure depression for sure from time to time there during the PhD process I just let you know you know the last two or three years I was I felt very alone with what I was doing I developed like kind of weird tics with my eyes and you know I'm being as open and honest as I possibly can with this and you know I just don't really alone throughout that particular process because there's not a lot of people that you can talk to about these particular issues or it feels like that you know but there are people to talk to and that's that's part of the reason why I'm doing these YouTube videos is to share you know these emotions that we go through and to know that tell you that there's other people out there that are going through the exact same experiences and that's really why I created the whole reciprocity project was to help out other people as much as I possibly can and to create some sort of community you can help out other people if you want so with this you know the the first sort of thing that that I would suggest is for you to get something else that you're good at and know that you're many you're good at many things you truly aren't good at many things there are a lot of extracurricular activities that you can do that is outside of academia you don't want to start thinking about those particular things make sure it is social as as its possibly can or if you like to go for walks you know go out and go for walks get a dog get and a pet is something like that that you are forced to get out I did that and it was you it helped a lot is getting out into the world and trying to create this community that's outside of academia really truly does help would deal with a lot of these negative emotions that you get again and get involved in your neighborhood just find something maybe it is you find some some friends maybe it's some academic friends that you have during the ph.d process that you just go and play golf with or whatever it is it's it's non-academic and and it is something else that you have to do then you have right that's a really important thing that you have something that that you can relate to and that is non-academic that's gonna help you out and tremendously you know second thing that you can possibly do is go get exercise every time that you start feeling negative and that's usually after about three or four hours of sitting there and working and you start feeling your emotions are depleted just go get some exercise go out there go for a walk go for a run go swimming go to the gym whatever it is just get out there and get some exercise that's going to help you out tremendously we're dealing with these particular emotions and we all have as academics and you know just know to recognize when you start having those negative emotions and it usually maybe takes about 20-25 minutes before you start feeling that but once you start feeling that just get out there and leave the office and do that whatever it is that you need to go do you know don't spend time on social media to deal with these particular issues not gonna help you have to get out and get out of yourself and go and do some exercise you know a third thing that and that I have realized and that's part of why I do this reciprocity project and why I'm devoting to these particular videos is just try to help other people as much as you can and it does help but when you try to help other people and because what you end up realizing you started thinking about is that you are really much better off than a lot of people that are around you even though it is a really tough scenario that you're in but you are better off and then a lot of people out there so go and just try to help other people as much as you can whatever it is whether it is you know helping people at the soup kitchen or something like that that's gonna help you out tremendously you were dealing with some of these negative emotions the fourth thing then I think is critical with dealing with any of these particular issues is make sure that you have a supportive research team as much as you possibly can so this is your immediate supervisor or maybe these are other students that you're working with you know one of the reasons why you do feeling those negative emotions during the ph.d program is because you're working with people that that negate you that sort of beat you up in terms and emotionally in terms of your ideas whenever you have an idea they they start sort of criticizing and saying that's a stupid idea that is not at all the people that you want to work with you want to work with people that do the yes and kind of mentality and not know other people that that do that when you propose an idea no matter how stupid is they say oh that's a great idea wonder if we can do this as well and the more that you do that sort of yes and those ideas that the more helpful it's gonna be for all of you and the more that you're gonna feel energized from these interactions and feeling just beat up along those interactions is so incredibly important I can't stress that enough you know let the last thing I'm going to point out so the fifth thing and this is really important and this is going to help you out we're dealing the emotional journey is know that you can quit at any time this is your choice with the thing that you're doing and you if things get too bad know that you have a lot of options out there a PhD is highly valuable even if you don't finish it even if you get six months in you realize this is awful and I don't want to do this this is a bad two route for me that knowledge that you accumulated during those six months are extremely valuable knowledge is the most important thing that you're acquiring throughout the ph.d process how to deal with yourself how to deal with others how to you know just the different ideas that you gather during the ph.d process that knowledge is going to benefit you in the workplace you're not gonna see it right now it's hard to see right now but once you get out in the workplace you're gonna start realizing there's just lots of different things I could do with this even if you quit a little ways in that's totally fine and you can you know you just have to stick with the PhD process and learn how to deal with these particular negative emotions as much as you possibly can if you want to keep going with it but no having that option that you're not stuck that you have a lot of different opportunities available really is motivating and it does help you go through all of these emotions and deal with these emotions and you know what if it if it does suck and you're not liking it and you really thought about this particular route you should quit it's not really that big of a deal nobody's gonna care in six months it's not a big deal at all you know then your your advisors for example they're probably gonna be happy that you quit earlier because they know that you're doing something that that you love some people are gonna be grumpy but so what who cares right they're gonna be grumpy that's that's them that have to deal with that particular issue it's not you so know that you're not letting anybody down you're maybe letting them down for an hour and you know they go home and they say oh this PhD student quit it on me that's fine who cares move on with your life you have options going so that's all I wanted to talk about is a really important thing again if you're having really negative deep thoughts make sure you do try to get help as quickly as you possibly can go talk to every University has a fantastic mental health team that they can deal with and you know the that the last resort if you need to you can call the police if you're dealing with any particular negative emotions they're extremely nice and you know every time that I've had any sort of interactions with police it's been very positive so again take care and have a wonderful day and you know that you're not alone this is this is this career is tough but you're not alone and we all deal with these particular issues all right take care and have a wonderful day bye


  1. Thank you

  2. Thanks so much!

  3. I have questions about depression associated with manuscript and thesis writing. I hate it and really depressed. Could you please help me this

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