Mentally exhausted fourth year PhD


I don’t mean to sound negative, but I feel physically and mentally exhausted. I am in my fourth year of my PhD (three paper structure thesis) and I have managed to get my second paper accepted for publication in a well-respected journal. I am in the process of completing my third paper and will then need to revisit my first paper (written during my first year and needs major corrections/editing).

The deadline to submit my thesis is October of this year and I am in a full-blown panic. I am tired all the time and I am no longer motivated to write anything. I still have at the very least four, long chapters to write for my six-chapter thesis. I know others have faced worse odds and have come out just fine, but I don’t believe I am one of those people. I already struggle with anxiety and depression and I have been seeing my university counsellor since starting my studies. My condition has been deteriorating, and I (no exaggeration) am anxious all the time.

To top this all off, my supervisor is extremely demanding, and his background is awfully intimidating (Cambridge graduate, publishing in top journals, rewards left and right etc.). I am always too afraid to let him down/have him regret his decision to supervise me.. so I work 24/7. To my surprise, I received a call from him the other day letting me know that he is considering hiring me after I am done.

Anyone in my position should be elated… supervisor offering a job in academia, a published article and aside from his robotic work ethic he is generally a very lovely person. Except I feel nothing but dread, and I sit and cry all the time for no apparent reason, like stuck in a bad nightmare and I don’t know how to get out. I am just depleted from constantly feeling like this and I don’t know what to do or how to fix myself. I want to be proud of my accomplishments, not scared of everything and anything for no logical reason.


I totally relate to your situation. Speaking with a counsellor in my university, she told me that I was probably experiencing impostor syndrome (something I have never heard before).
In your case you would probably need more than a university counsellor and some time to rest. Having experienced myself depression and an anxiety disorder I know that you cannot overcome that by yourself.
My best wishes to you.


Thank you, Fridamore. I'm hoping that break is right around the corner!


Hi @Trevalda, my situation is 90% same as yours. Final year PhD (three stand-alone papers structure as well), submitting in two months, also I just received a second rejection for a paper (which is the first stand-alone paper from my thesis, reviewers keep saying my findings don't add anything new to the field). Although I have finished writing all the chapters and sent them to my supervisors two weeks ago, I am waiting for their feedback and can't do anything until then (finished formatting the thesis, appendix, tables and figures during waiting). At the same time, receiving the rejection letter disrupted my plans and I am so frustrated and I haven't been able to sleep for the past few days. My supervisors have been busy with their stuff (+covid pressure), and they want me to submit the rejected paper soon but I'm not sure if this is the right thing to do right now given my submission deadline. I'm just super frustrated and stressed out.