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Ask The Experts

Should I Take a Semester Off?


I recently began medication for depression, it was going so well then I had a spell where I would like to say I went “psycho” and tried to get the gun out, knife out to harm and/or kill myself. I threatened to jump out of the car when my fiance said he was taking me to the hospital. Eventually I was hospitalized for one day and they said I was fine. Since then I have continued to decline, no more suicidal thoughts, but self-harm thoughts and have decided to take some time off from school (college) and work. I am getting treated by a doctor and a psychologist. Is this the right thing to do or should I still be going to school and work? I feel as if I won’t want to jump right back in as that will overwhelm me even more. I feel as if I have gotten myself into an even bigger bind. Help? Should I take the rest of the semester off? The self-eval told me I have OCD, suicidal with major depression, social anxiety, bipolar, and agoraphobia.

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

It is really important you discuss your continuing to feel down with your doctor and therapist as soon as possible. Sometimes anti-depressants can make matters worse for people and you may need an adjustment of dose or change of medicine. In general, it is good to stay as busy and productive as you can when you are depressed because that will help you move forward and help to speed your recovery. It is not a good idea to stay in school or go to work though if your depression is so bad that you are likely to fail your courses or jeopardize your job. This is something you should be sure to discuss with your therapist-there is no single right answer-it all depends on your circumstances.