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PhD Talk Q & A: Research depression

Mostly unrelated – but, hey, here’s a tucan 🙂

Dear readers,

I know I’m totally behind on replying questions in the Q&A series, but finally I’m back with a question I personally replied to a reader quite some time ago already.

Some time ago, I received the following message in my inbox:

I have read some of your blogs and they are really really good. They have helped me a lot in getting motivated for my research in masters. Actually i am doing my thesis in masters and now a days i am feeling very very down due to loneliness (i live in a hostel) and pressure of work. When some one gives me a motivational speech or i read some motivational stuff ( like i read yours) i am greatly motivated and promise myself to work hard on my thesis but after some time, the effect wears off and again I am back in that no motivation mood. Mostly I am locked up in my cubicle and doing nothing, and it wastes lots of my time. Most of the time I am depressed and I feel like I wont b able to complete my thesis. I am scared to do research. I only feel better when i go out of the room and meet people or socialize. But I can’t do it all the time because it also wastes lots of time. I am suffering from very very low motivation and want to complete my thesis on time and submit it but I don’t know i can’t bring in the motivation to even open a research article and study. Sometimes i feel like i should seriously consult a psychiatrist. Sometimes negative thoughts like suicide also cross my mind. Mostly I can’t even bring myself to get up and brush my teeth. I plan to go to library but even can’t push myself to do that. I get up early in the morning to get ready and go to library but then i keep it pending and pending.I have wasted months i this process. Please help me. Please I seriously need help.

The first thing that came to my mind after reading this message, was that this student needs help. I’m not a professional mental health care taker, but we all know when somebody needs help, and this message spoke right to my heart. Even though it’s hard to judge at a distance and I can only give a little bit of encouragement and a nudge to get help when you need it, there’s always the tiny little support we can give. So I replied as follows:

Thanks for sending me your message through my blog.
Reading your message, I would like to suggest you to talk to a counselor of your university. All of us go through difficult times during our PhD, but for some people those difficulties at times appear to be impossible to overcome. From what you wrote me, I had the impression you’ve hit a really rough patch. Most universities have psychologists working for them, especially to help people in your case.

There’s no shame in asking for help when you need it. You’ll do much more damage to yourself and your studies if you try to keep up appearances, but crash in a few months from now.
I’ll write a longer post dealing with your cry for help, but in the meantime I already wanted to reach out to you and encourage you to seek support in your institution.

So remember, there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help when you need it – even though in academia it might be considered as a failure. It’s not – you’ll only do more damage to yourself and your work if you stay in the same place where you are – a dark place where you’d rather not be hanging out for too long.

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This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. Nice advice eva.. I would like to add some things which might help this person..1) I suggest you to do meditation for some time everyday..I am also suffering from same kind of things and I have started doing meditation and it helps a lot..If you do meditation for even 10 minutes a day, then it will help you. There are lot of youtube videos on youtube telling the way to meditate.. I listen to the bell sounds and try to concentrate on that and keep my mind blank for that amount of time.. Throughout the day, I try to live in the present, no past, no future..just try to enjoy the present..It is not easy as it is said..But if you practice meditation and it will help you for sure..I have also started listening talks of buddhist monks on youtube which gives me peace. So first advice is meditation.2) secondly, I think you are stuck in not doing her/his work and not feeling like doing anything..I suggest taking small steps.. try to study 30 minutes atleast in a day…then increase the time eventually..30 minutes a day is not much..You can adopt a system for reading about your research like take a research paper and just try to answer some questions like what is the main contribution of the paper or which method the authors used..Just adopt some system..It will give you not to drag though the research paper..3) I would advice to do some exercise. Take a walk for 10-15 minutes. During these exercise time, dont think about any stuff..just admire nature's beauty or breathe in fresh air..4) During early stages of your recovery you have to force yourself doing these stuff..But if you keep on forcing yourself for some days, then you will develop habits and you dont have to force yourself after some time..It will come naturally..When birds starts flying they have to force themselves against gravity but eventually after some time flying comes naturally.. So force yourself..5) Read some self help books.. There are a lot of self help books on amazon..just google and try to first read books which have less pages so they can be finished soon and it will give you some feeling of accomplishment..6) Focus on habits and not on goals..If you exercise for 30 minutes a day then after some months you will lose weight..So dont make a goal to lose weight..just try to exercise daily for some time..If you a thing daily for a time period then you will see results.. Dont make a goal to see results but develop habits by doing things daily..Hope this helps..

  2. As says,\”Depression makes you isolated.It's very hard to think of other people when you're wrapped in a prickly blanket of sadness and all you can think about is your own pain.\”Jessica Glenn.

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