I’ve been going to a psychiatrist for about 9 months now for my ADHD. Every session she asks if I’ve ever had an eating disorder, and I tell her no even though I do struggle with one and bouts of depression. I refuse to be completely upfront with her because I am scared that having a psychiatric issues will prevent me from getting into med school, or getting a license afterward. Can mental illness prevent either of these?

A: To be engaged in healing others, you must be healthy yourself. Your psychiatrist is fishing because she senses that you aren’t being completely straight with her. Perhaps you would be reassured if you asked her in a hypothetical way what the consequences might be for someone who did have an eating disorder and depression in terms of med school admission and licensure. Since she is working in your state, she is likely to have that information. Of course, she will know that you are are talking about yourself, but as long as you frame your question in a “what if” kind of way, it can’t go on your record as a fact about you.

I very much hope that your state is enlightened about the importance of people getting treatment they need, whatever their profession. Can you really imagine that it’s better to have the lives of sick people in the hands of someone who has an untreated depression than to support professionals in taking care of themselves? Stranger things happen but I really, really hope that you find that it’s not only okay but encouraged that you do your personal work. You’ll be a more effective and more compassionate physician if you do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie