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Going through depression because of my PHD

I'm not sure if the depression is due to the Ph.D. per se.....would it make you less depressed if you stopped?
That's not to belittle how you're feeling though! I was at the point of wanting to jump off a very high bridge at one stage, and I empathise with how you may feel.

There are many potential solutions which all depend on you. Medical or pharmacological intervention may help, but you taking a bit more control may also help :)
Ph.D's are tough mentally as is much of life. I've personally turned to Buddhism .....I'm not suggesting that you do this for a second but using some basic Buddhist teachings may help:

Pain and suffering is inevitable for everyone in life and when you learn to accept this, it is likely that you will become more content and happy.

If you concern yourself with what you are in control of, rather than about others who you cannot control, you will become more content and happy. Research makes others act in a way that they may not normally and very few consciously act to hurt others.

If you learn from the PhD process, then you will not have wasted anything. During mine, I was stressed, overworked, clinically depressed, angry etc..... much as you probably are just now. I had two vivas and very nearly failed.....I had a supervisor who wasn't the best for my learning style, who I perceived to be unsupportive. Yet, I am now a Dr :) I have no regrets, I have a great job and I'm very philosophical.

Stick with it, take control and good luck!

Applying for a RA position while writing up.....is this a mad idea?

======= Date Modified 01 Aug 2010 12:21:47 =======
I dunno if there is an easy answer to this.

Just short of completing my data collection I got a great job.......Then, an analyser broke, and i was still collecting data in the lab the night before i started the job....500 miles away!
My supervisor helped out a wee bit as i had a few people still to test (unethical maybe).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, i wasn't working in academia, my supervisor wasn't that good in many ways and my job was highly demanding. My 1st submission was poor, my viva even worse, 2nd submission ok but viva not good enough. 3 years later....with a nervous breakdown in between, no work-life balance, insomnia etc etc and I've just been awarded my Ph.D.

My advise would be that if you can get a decent part-time RA job then fine, but you may save time and stress in the long run if you try and complete before starting a full time position.

Do I understand this correctly?

I once played with R, but it just isn't very user friendly unless you have someone to help you.
SPSS is the package of choice for most, but I prefer Graphpad because its really easy to use and its outputs are great....limited insofar as it won't do stepwise regression though!

Why SPSS is riduculous

thats why I use graphpad!

what to do when your partner is leaving/made to leave their PhD

Well, the pressure of having to get through a Ph.D. is hard enough without depression.... The best advise i could give is to think about how to help the depression and if some effective help can be found, the Ph.D. will look after itself.

Many of us invest our life and soul into our research, it becomes our world. But the ones we love and being happy is far more important. Invest as much time in the pursuit of happiness and you will be far more successful in everything you wish to achieve :)

Graphpad prism - being a numpty


I'm sure I've managed before....but it may just be a case of adding additional labels to your graphs.

You may wish to contact Graphpad direct as they generally get back to you within 48 hours with a response.

if you get really stuck, PM me and I'll have a go for you!

Understanding our limitations

I recently started a thread on whether 360 degree reviews were required between supervisors and their students.....I'm writing to add personal perspective to my post. I think it may be quite common to some of us out there.

I received a funded Ph.D. after being awarded a 1st class degree from one of the best universities in my area......greatest limitation was that I achieved without sufficient training in research design. I completed a very simple undergraduate final year project, but did it very well.... I didn't do a Masters.

Before I knew it, I was up to my neck in further research proposals, ethical applications, buying expensive lab equipment, dealing with a new place to live, not getting on with a housemate, recruiting participants, having no family support network etc. There were problems with my equipment when it was delivered, the lab technician had social deficiencies, my 2nd supervisor was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and I was the only student at my Uni undertaking research in the area......so I had no one to discuss things with.
Now from going from being a happy go lucky guy, who was very motivated......I went to being strung up, nervous, disorganised with a fair bit of insomnia thrown in. I think I was not the best person to be around. Oh and I struggled to make friends!
But here is the crux....was I a crap student or a good student in a situation that I didn't have the coping mechanisms or experience to deal with the situation I was in? I think my supervisor still believes that it is the former.
My supervisor is an excellent academic, has great knowledge of his area, loads of publications and a real asset to the department. But does such a background make an academic a good or appropriate supervisor? In this case, I don't think so. Many of us criticise our supervisors, in fact, its probably the main topic here... But I think that this highlights a fundamental problem in the supervisory system rather than in the supervisors themselves:

A) What training is given to a supervisor before they are appointed a student? My understanding is that its normally limited to a short course or reading a manual.
B) Do they understand what motivates their students, and the best way to support individual learning styles? Post-graduate study requires that the student can learn independently and this is easy for some but others learn a different way and may need additional support.
C) Is there a pastoral care system in place and do supervisors understand how to use or access it for their students?
D) Is the supervisory role carefully defined to both the student and supervisor prior to the start of the period of research?

In my personal case, I don't think that there was any clearly defined pathway to help my supervisor be a good supervisor, so is it any wonder that he failed to meet my expectations? I didn't meet his.

Is it time for compulsory 360 degree reviews?

I was just thinking that a consistent vain here was that nearly everyone here has a gripe with their supervisor. They are either:
too demanding
do sweet fanny adams
have personality disorders

and they think that Ph.D's should be the way they were for them. They probably have pretty similar gripes about us (that's me just trying to be balanced and objective).

Although it may be the ultimate academic challenge for some, many very worthy students fall by the wayside, not because of luck but because of inadeqaute supervision. Should we not all have the opportunity to have a feedback meeting every year, where everyone is on an equal footing so that challenges can be addressed?

Thesis Done, Now Doubts over Content

It was, yeah! Beautiful!
It's funny....when you feel so alone in the research process, the best thing to do is take some guidance and explore it in solitude.

I must sound like a loner, but I'm soooo not.

I think all Ph.D. supervisors should undergo specific training, and consider the impact they have in the way they interact with their supervisee. It's about gaining knowledge and using humility, logical, balanced and critical thought processes that they should have learnt during their own Ph.D.

Not that any of us should feel bitter or resentment towards our supervisory team. Their weaknesses or limitations should teach us valuable lessons that we can use for the benefit of others.

Thesis Done, Now Doubts over Content


I feel for you. I found myself in a similar situation, maybe a bit worse!

I somehow managed to get to the same point as you, submitted my PhD after my supervisor had read it....ok'd it etc. Only when I was revising for my viva did I realise that it was full of errors, one or two that were serious. I had followed a research process that I didn't understand........I was up the creak without a paddle! After a mock viva with a friend who just happened to be a Prof., I was ready to jump off a very big bridge.....I was crying and a total mess. The viva went worse and I was surprised to get a 2nd chance.

I blamed my supervisor, and no doudt he did need to take a great deal of responsibility.......after all, it should not happen that a Ph.D. submission is not worthy of an award! The process seriously broke me mentally.....I was in a highly demanding job at the time, where weakness was not tolerated.

A funny thing then happened.....I met a girl who was a Buddhist....she somehow managed to get me on to a retreat in the North of Scotland for a week. Now, I wasn't one for mumbo jumbo, or religion.....after all, I was a scientist. But I went. The week made me realise a number of things:
That I was not in control of my supervisor's behaviour, so being angry and bitter about it would only be destructive.
That I was in control of all my actions.....I may have done a poor job, but had I learnt from my experiences?
How would I treat my students, should I be in a position to supervise in the future?
Through the resubmission process, would I learn?

All the answers were positive. Now I have resubmitted my thesis.....it has errors, its not perfect and there is a chance even after all the hard work, that I won't be awarded a Ph.D. Does it matter? Hmmm, maybe a bit, but its not the end of my world if it doesn't end in success. I am now working where I want to, and I am happy. A Ph.D. is a "Teacher of Philosophy", not an expert in this field, or that....I am much stronger in that way than the student who had a supervisor that handed over a research proposal, asked his student to collect the data and then assisted in publishing in a high impact journal.

I am sure there are more positives that will come out of your situation too, and I wish you all the luck in the world. :)