Fear of Exams Makes Me Depressed

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hello , I am a 25 year old MBBS student. I have been suffering from depression since 13 yrs of age. It all started with losing sleep the night before an exam and had very severe negative thoughts later. It resolved after 3 months , had recurrences 4 times, all associated with exams. I wanted to be a doc from childhood and is it because of my over-expectations i am feeling so ?
1. I am on Tab Escitalopram 10mg OD for the past 8 years, it was helpful but is not helping now.
2. I am having obsessive images of places from the past and even after taking this drug , it didnt go away
3. i have lost faith in medication now and is totally hopeless
4. why am i so afraid of exams ,even after writing thousands of exams ??

Please help me . plsss

A: You are scared of exams because exams are scary for almost everyone. It’s absolutely normal to be stressed. It’s not normal to be so stressed that you get depressed and lose confidence in yourself to this extent. And, no, I don’t think you are expecting too much of yourself. If you want to be a doctor, you need to study and master difficult subjects. That is challenging for anyone. It is also worth doing.

I have several suggestions:
1) Please go back to the doctor who prescribed the Lexapro. Talk about whether it is time to discontinue it or to make a change in dosage or in medication.

2) Then, please, find a therapist. Anxiety and depression are rarely taken care of by medication alone. You need to learn some new coping skills for dealing with stress. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is generally thought to be the best approach for something like this.

3) Talk to someone about whether you have the study skills you need to be the kind of student you want to be. There may be more effective ways to study that will give you more confidence when you are faced with an exam. Make sure you allow plenty of time before the exam to study. Many people find it helpful to have a study buddy; someone who is taking the same subject so you can quiz each other.

4) Make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Students who eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly do better on their exams.

5) One final hint: Believe it or not, people who get a good night’s sleep the night before, get up early, eat a good breakfast and dress nicely generally do better on exams.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Fear of Exams Makes Me Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/05/fear-of-exams-makes-me-depressed/

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