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Starting PhD Program in the Midst of Medication Change

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so, i moved a few days to a large city in california from a suburban city in california to begin a phd program. courses start on the 19th and i'm in the midst of medication changes. i feel as though i'm going to be stuck where i am for some time because i'm slightly unstable at present mostly with regard to the anxiety disorders. so, due to the rigorous demands of the program, i'm not sure when it'll be apt to make further medication changes.

my last appointment with my current psychiatrist is on the 16th via telehealth and then i'll need to switch physicians with immediacy as i'm taking controlled substances that aren't refillable in three-month quantities. anyhow, as it's not going to look terribly favorable if i start the program by taking a leave to complete medication changes with uncertain outcomes, is it suggested that i leave all as is and remain holding the line until who knows when?

like, i realize there is no opportune time to change medications, but this is really inopportune.

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I can only speak from my own experience.  I had to cancel my PhD registration due to instability and general dissatisfaction with my thesis topic (basically, I discovered that I had no passion for it whatsoever - not that I expect to feel passionate throughout, but I must feel engaged and enthusiastic on some level to survive this process) and supervisor.  Plans to re-register with an exciting new topic and also a new supervisor have been put on hold because family circumstances have me just clinging to my full-time job.  I need close management from my psychiatrist while I am preparing myself for the likelihood of my father dying in the next few months.

Our doctoral programmes run differently here - with one exception, they are 100% research-based with zero coursework.  I wish there were coursework, because unless your thesis is connected to a wider project (as can often be the case in the natural or applied sciences), you are very alone (frequently the status quo in humanities and social sciences areas; my specific field is higher education policy).  This is only my opinion of course, but I would say that these early days are critically important for you in terms of connecting with fellow students and the academics with whom you will be working over an extended period of time.

I cannot tell you what to do.  However, I will say that if I were in your position I would sort out a new psychiatrist asap and settle into the PhD programme before trying or continuing with anything that could destabilise you and risk this crucial start to your studies.  I believe that you will have a better chance of receiving support from the university if you don't roll in and immediately postpone your start for what may be, as you say, an uncertain period of time.  Academia can be pretty brutal, but I'm sure you know that.

I wish you everything of the best.


eta for clarity - in terms of the language we use, master's research output is referred to as a dissertation, and PhD output as a thesis.  I know the terminology can be applied slightly differently elsewhere.

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11 hours ago, basuraeuropea said:

like, i realize there is no opportune time to change medications, but this is really inopportune.

I pretty much concur with @MiaB .....Get settled in with your new pdoc, and settled in with your PhD program for awhile, before making any additional med changes.

I also agree with you, that there really is no ideal time to make med changes...**SIGH**.....

Edited by CrazyRedhead
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thank you so much for your insight @MiaB! i hope that you are doing well enough to enroll once again when the time comes. i applied with a number of research interests in mind and was assigned a first-year mentor who may become my advisor throughout the program's entirety or may change depending on my honed research focuses. my interests are not terribly aligned with the research areas of the professor serving as my first-year mentor and i don't quite understand why i was placed under her wing. i plan not to become super involved in her ongoing research projects, although she's already invited me to do so. i feel as though this is going to lead me exactly to where you were when you found absolutely no passion in the topic of study.

may i ask if when you reenter a program you will enter the same academic discipline with another research focus or are you changing departments/disciplines altogether? i am entering a phd program in education, however a lot of my (current) research interests interweave applied linguistics and anthropology with pedagogy. i need to somehow blend the latter two in order to really become engaged in my research. i didn't have any academic background in linguistics nor anthropology as my master's degree and subsequent career were within the realm of lower academia (kindergarten teacher with a master of science in elementary bilingual education). i would have loved to have entered an anthropology program, but knew i wouldn't be admitted. as a side note, it's neat that you are also involved in educational policy, albeit at the higher level. i'm focused on elementary educational policy and ancillary research areas related to said policy change that i won't go into here because everyone will be bored to death.

phd programs in the united states do consist of coursework for the first two to three years, fortunately, and then one is on one's own to conduct research. it is during these first few years that research interests often change, albeit within the same discipline, and are honed. also, the terminology is, indeed, reversed in the united states with a master's culminating work called a thesis and a doctoral culminating work called a dissertation.

i'm currently stable enough, but i can't make medication changes without falling apart which is worrisome.

i do thank you for the well wishes and also wish you the very best in all!

edited to say that i reached out the office of students with disabilities and they are to hold a meeting today on my case to hopefully grant accommodations that will certainly help throughout the program. i'm not sure when i'll be notified of the meeting's outcome. in all honestly, i'm worried that i won't be able to make it through.

Edited by basuraeuropea
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