Medical School Rejection Depression (7 ways to cope)

Today’s blog post emphasises on ‘medical school rejection depression’. We first start by taking a brief overview of depression. We then move on to understanding the link between medical school rejection and depression along with the impact of rejection at medical school,along with the impact of rejection at medical school, which may serve as the basis for medical school rejection depression.Lastly, we focus on the different ways of coping with medical school rejection depression.

No one really likes rejection, not even those people who are able to deal with it gracefully. While rejection may get difficult to be faced in most cases, rejection from medical school can be particularly hard to deal with.

Medical School Rejection Depression:

Medical school rejection depression usually occurs when the individual has been extremely persuasive of their career as a medical professional and it is the only thing they have ever thought about, but their application gets rejected from the medical school, despite their best efforts. 

Medical school rejection depression can be triggered by the impact of rejection such as:

  • Self-doubt
  • Lowering of self-efficacy
  • Uncertainty
  • Anger and pressure on self
  • Overthinking spiral
  • Comparing oneself to others
  • Sleep and appetite disturbances


Depression can be understood as a mood disorder. It can be described as experiencing a persistent feeling of anger, loss and sadness that can interfere with the person’s day to day living. Along with interference with the day to day activities, depression often results in lowered productivity and loss of energy. It can also lead to a negative impact on the relationships and trigger physical health issues. 

Symptoms of depression may include feelings of irritability, anger, restlessness, feeling fatigued, sad, hopeless, sleep disturbances, appetite loss, difficulty in completing the tasks and concentration during work, lack of interest in daily activities, back aches, shortness of breath, reduced sexual desire and also suicidal thoughts in extreme cases. 

Depression can be caused when the person has had a history of depression in the family or past history of depression themselves, it can be caused due to past traumatic experiences, substance abuse, genetics and brain structure and other medical conditions. 

Relationship between medical school rejection and depression:

Understanding the link between medical school rejection and depression can provide us with a glimpse of the reasons for medical school rejection depression. 

Rejection from medical school can be heartbreaking for most applicants as they put in a tremendous amount of hard work, energy and monetary investment to get into medical school. Medical schools often choose applicants on the basis of a specific blend of credentials that they are looking for. As a result of this, only those applicants who match those specifications are accepted, while others face rejection. Even though this rejection is not a result of their inadequacies, but due to the specifications needed at that time, medical school aspirants face the following impact that makes them vulnerable to developing medical school rejection depression. 

The impact of rejection from medical school:

  • Self-doubt:

Self-doubt usually comes up when the aspirant has taken a lot of efforts to study for the entrance exams, researched the best medical schools available that may fit their interests, took up skill development courses and also made monetary arrangements. When the person gets rejected despite preparing to the best of their capacity, the initial reaction can be a shock, followed by self-doubt, where the person may lose confidence and may feel incapable of doing anything. 

  • Lowering of self-efficacy:

Along with self-doubt, the student’s sense of self-efficacy may also be hit. Self-efficacy can be understood as the person’s belief in his or her capacity to take up behaviours that are necessary to produce the desired effects. After the rejection, the person is likely to doubt their capacity to engage in behaviours that are needed to get into a medical school. They may feel at a lack of control of things around them that they felt they were in control of in the beginning.

  • Uncertainty:

While preparing for medical school, the individual may have planned their life ahead as a medical student in the school of their choice, the list of specialisations that they would prefer to major in, the hospitals and populations that they would like to cater their services to. However, all of this begins with getting accepted into a medical school and rejection makes things uncertain for the person as it leads to a loss of direction and goal in his or her life and also increases a sense of hopelessness.

When the students face rejection, the shock and sadness of not being accepted into medical school is also accompanied with anger that is directed towards the self. The person may react angrily towards the self in the form of self- blame, pressurising the self and punishing self by avoiding things that he or she likes to do. This self directed anger can also take the form of self harm.

  • Overthinking spiral:

Rejection from medical school is likely to push the student into rumination, where they may brood excessively over the mistakes they may have made and how they could not rectify those at that time. They may also excessively worry about the future as they may not have a back up career plan and may feel directionless. 

  • Comparing oneself to others:

The condition is likely to worsen if the student’s peers have been accepted into medical schools. In this case, they are likely to compare themselves with others, further fostering their sense of self-doubt, anger, rumination and sadness. 

This may also isolate them from their peers as they may feel that they are a failure and that others are in a better place than them.

  • Sleep and appetite disturbance:

After rejection from medical school, a student can be severely affected, so much so that it can affect their sleep cycle wherein, they may face trouble going to sleep (insomnia), they may have a very light sleep, may have trouble maintaining sleep. They may also sleep excessively.

On the other hand, the rejection may lead them to engage in stress eating, creating grounds for a possible eating disorder. They may also lose their appetite which can lead to fatigue, lethargy and loss of energy.

The impact of rejection from medical school leads to symptoms that are very closely linked to the symptoms of depression, indicating that rejection from medical school can trigger medical school rejection depression. 

How to cope with medical school rejection depression?

There are a few ways that can be implemented to effectively cope with medical school rejection depression despite the fact that rejections can be distressing for anyone.

Ways to cope with medical school rejection depression:

  • Give yourself time to process the new information:

As we saw, rejections are hard pills to swallow, especially when the individual has been extremely passionate about a particular field. With rejection, there can be several questions about the past and future that can follow. However, it is important to understand that the person need not have answers to all the questions right away.

The first step towards deciding the next step of action is giving oneself the time and space to process new information and allowing it to be assimilated. Once the person is able to acknowledge the occurrence of the incidence, finding solutions to it can be relatively easier and can also make a person more resilient.

  • Re-evaluate your decision:

Sometimes, the rejection can serve as a time for a person to re-evaluate their decisions to become a doctor. This is because being a medical professional is demanding and takes up several resources of a person.

The time post rejection can be used by the person to reflect upon their reasons to be a doctor. They may do this by asking themselves the following questions:

  • Why do I want to be a doctor?
  • I am ready to invest my time and money in this profession?
  • If not a doctor what else will I be able to pursue?
  • Am I ready to take the effort for entrance exams all over again?
  • What are the skills needed to be a doctor? How many of them do I have?
  • Am I getting into this profession for my parents or because my peers are taking it up?

These questions can help a person reevaluate their decision to enter the medical profession. This list of questions is not definitive and more questions can be added.

  • Develop a solution focused approach:

The best way to stop ruminating and worrying about the future is to develop a solution focused approach. It requires tracing back to the various steps that were taken in the process of applying to medical schools. This is known as back tracking. 

Solution focused approach can also be developed by evaluating the study methods adopted to identify the loopholes in it.

However, one has to remember that backtracking here is not to be done with the intention of identifying mistakes and blaming the self over it, but it is important to have a non-judgemental and analytical perspective in order to rectify the errors, should the person decide to apply again in future. 

Solution focused approach can also be developed by talking to people who have cleared the entrance exams to understand their pattern of study and their approach to the process.

  • Do not isolate yourself:

Medical school rejection depression can push a person into isolation and can make them feel worthless and angry. However, isolating oneself will only serve to increase feelings of jealousy, self-doubt, anger, lowered self-efficacy and self-esteem.
Instead spending time with family and friends, going out for social events and having fun can help the person cope with the situation better.

Always remember, a rejection does not mean that life ends for a person and therefore one should not give up doing things that they like.

  • Eating and sleeping well:

Rejection at medical school can lead to sleep and appetite disturbance, but not eating or sleeping well may further reduce the person’s capacity to prepare for the exam, and it can create a cycle of failed attempts.

Eating regular meals, keeping yourself hydrated, exercising and sleeping well can be the first step towards gearing up for another attempt.

Depression, including medical school rejection depression can have a debilitating impact on an individual’s life if not taken care of. If the person feels that their basic social and occupational functioning is severely imapaired following the rejection and that they have been feeling this for more than 2 weeks at a stretch, professional help must be seeked urgently. 

Rejections are undoubtedly difficult to handle, but rejections are a part of human existence. The pain and possible shame of being rejected, especially at medical school is likely to lessen when a person realises that many individuals face the situation that they are in and that helps increase the universality of this phenomena.

Frequently Asked Questions: Medical School Rejection Depression

Do medical schools send rejections?

Most medical schools hold the majority of students until later to decide to waitlist or reject them.

What does constant rejection do to a person?

When a person gets rejected constantly, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Rejection sensitivity can lead to several mental health issues such as social anxiety and  personality disorders. Rejection from medical school can lead to medical school rejection depression.

What causes fear of rejection?

Some causes of the fear of rejection include early traumatic experiences, abandonment, being bullied or ridiculed or having a medical issue that can lead to rejection. 

What happens if you get rejected from medical school?

After rejection from medical school, one can ask the schools different ways to improve application. It can get overwhelming and one should seek appropriate help.

Do med schools reject overqualified applicants?

No, medical schools do not reject candidates for being overqualified.


Today’s blog post emphasised on ‘medical school rejection depression’. We first started by taking a brief overview of depression. We then moved on to understanding the link between medical school rejection and depression along with the impact of rejection at medical school, which may serve as the basis for medical school rejection depression. Lastly, we focused on the different ways of coping with medical school rejection depression.

I hope the blog post could provide an understanding into the impact of rejection that can lead to depression and the ways to cope with medical school rejection depression. Please feel free to drop your comments and queries below.


How to Handle Medical School Rejection Depression

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