Excerpts from a Copy of Personal Statement for Admission with Advanced Standing in Medical School sent to Dr. Hedaya

“For the past two and a half years my mother has suffered from a severe and possibly life-threatening depression. Her condition was life-threatening not only because of a desire for death but until recently she literally did not sleep and ate only when coerced. During my first year of medical school, she deteriorated and her weight plummeted from 170 to 95 pounds. At that point, I knew that I needed to take time off to help her or she could die. Over the last couple of months, my mother has undergone a metamorphosis and has nearly reached complete remission. For this remarkable turnaround, I credit the skill and expertise of her psychiatrist and family support.

“During this past year, I have been the full-time caretaker of my mother. Playing this role has been challenging for me, but it has taught me many things, both about myself and about the art and science of medicine. In certain ways, I feel that this time has been a continuation of my journey towards becoming a doctor, which has been the most fulfilling stage of my life.

“While the path ahead is daunting, I am excited about the possibility of continuing my medical education at Georgetown. The Jesuit tradition of cura personalis reflects my own philosophy concerning health and disease. Dr. Robert Hedaya, my mother’s psychiatrist and a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown, truly embodies this principle. He has been a superb role model to me in how to deliver comprehensive patient-centered care. Whereas her previous psychiatrist had evaluated her mood, cognition, and behavior and then prescribed medication unsuccessfully; Dr. Hedaya used a wide lens to determine other variables that affected her health. He found a tryptophan deficiency, a low thyroid level, low B12, low iron, an exhausted adrenal gland, bacterial and fungal infections and dehydration. Before prescribing any medication, he ordered nutritional supplements and fluids to correct the ravages of her starvation. His expertise and skill did not arise in a vacuum. He has become a great doctor by continuing his medical education in fields such as psychopharmacology, endocrinology, nutrition, and biological psychiatry and applying these studies to his practice. He has gone beyond what a typical psychiatrist is expected to know and he sees each patient as a unique individual with unique needs. It is my hope that with the marvelous and comprehensive training at Georgetown, I can one day become a superlative physician like Dr. Hedaya.
I am a college student in Illinois and am in the middle of constructing a research paper on medicating depression. I chose the topic because one of my best friends was diagnosed depressive a few years back, and took SSRIs to combat it until recently. He was complaining that the drugs made him feel very emotionally numb, and decided to take himself off them just a year ago. However, he’s been having a very difficult time coping with stress since then, so I wanted to see what I could discover to help him make an educated decision on whether to restart treatment or not.

“I checked your book, The Antidepressant Survival Guide, out of my local library, and I was astonished by what I read. At the time my friend was on Paxil, he wasn’t receiving any other care or advice- no therapy, dietary advice- no nothing. It never occurred to him or me that there might be a way to combat the problems that came with his medication; we were thinking of them as a necessary evil.”