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How to study when you feel down?

  1. Aug 3, 2014 #1
    Hi guys, long time lurker of physics forum here. Some time ago I read a thread about how to study when you have depression, or something along those lines, so I figured I should ask for similar advice.

    I'm a university student in summer school. I also have OCD and an incredibly low self esteem/self worth. Whenever I open my books, I think to myself, "I'm always going to be an idiot, so why try?" And when I do focus long enough, nothing seems to work. I tried going soft on myself, I tried going rough, I tried taking more OCD meds than I should've, but nothing works.

    I'd just like some advice on how to actually produce results, that's all. I have a lot of reading to do. Should I just skim it, and when I'm feeling better, go into detail?
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2014 #2


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    First, I think you should talk to someone with training in handling psychiatric matters. It sounds like you are taking medication, which means that you are at least in some contact with someone who can facilitate that sort of help. You should start there.

    That being said, I think self-esteem can be raised by setting goals and accomplishing them. Start small. Tell yourself that your goal is to read a couple sections in a chapter in the next few hours. Then do it! Once you have accomplished this goal, I think you will feel at least a little better, so set a new one. Slowly increase the time scales and ambitiousness of your goals.

    Also, it's worth partaking in outcome independent studying and reading. Focusing on goals such as improved scores on tests and attaining requisite knowledge to handle new material is a valid reason to study. But it can be useful to engage in reading or studying or working problems just because it's fun. If you indeed find it fun, you will find it easier to do. Once you start doing it more, you will likely acheive better outcomes. But you have to seperate the result from the action. Study to study. Read to read.

    Best of luck,
  4. Aug 3, 2014 #3


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    This may be helpful:
    "How to Get the Most Out of Studying"

    On occasion, this is helpful to me when I need some encouragement:
    "Richard Feynman - The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out"
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  5. Aug 4, 2014 #4
    Thanks for the suggestions Feynman. And thanks for the books robphy. I think Feynman was a great human being!

    Unfortunately, it's too late; although I got over being down, my OCD kinda took over, and I spent hours fixating on this one thing. I'm not going to mention what it is, but I'm out of time. I have a problem set due tomorrow, and I haven't even started.

    Should I just not do it? Like, even if I do accomplish something, I'll still get minimal marks.
  6. Aug 4, 2014 #5


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    Of course you should still do it! It's better to try than to give up. And it's better to do it and learn for your own good than not do it and miss out just because you'll get minimal marks. Outcome independence.

    And for the record, I think R. P. Feynman was kind of a jerk. I admire his curiosity and unconventional approaches to problem solving, however.
  7. Aug 4, 2014 #6
    It seems like your OCD pills aren't working well enough. Definitely see a psychiatrist for this. They can adjust your dose.

    Second, why not join a study group? Things are always more fun when you're working in groups, and it's more efficient as well.
  8. Aug 4, 2014 #7
    Yeah, I guess. Even though my OCD got the best of me, I still tried, and I learned some cool stuff from trying. :)

    Right now I'm at the max dosage, I think, for my meds; my psychiatrist won't increase it. And I think I'd like to try new meds, but I don't think that's going to happen.

    Study groups are okay. But I haven't exactly taken the time to get to know anyone in my course lol. I guess I should do that.
  9. Aug 4, 2014 #8
    Try a different psychiatrist?

    Do you have emails of people in your group? You can just send a mass email and ask if people are interested in joining you. It's also a great way of getting to know people.
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