Posted by: lize | 2004/11/01

Exam stress

Hi Doc,

I'm a 2nd yr medical student and having trouble coping with stress during this exam. I've been using herbex nerve tonic since schooldays but not sure if it's actually working.

I get very anxious the evening before an exam and usually end up crying and not able to concentrate at all and wasting time that I could have used to study. This behaviour started in my first year because I was fine at school. Eventhough I get so anxious there's actually no need to be because I get 75%+ for all my subjects.

I also have trouble sleeping the evening before an exam. My pharmacist gave me three Dormicum 7.5mg pills for my remaining 3 papers. But I'm wary to use them, I'm afraid I'll wake up sleepy and not able to concentrate because I usually study for 2 more hours in the morning and then write my papers at 9am.

Is there anything I can do to help me deal with the stress on the long term, but most importantly for NOW during this exam, because I'm not sure how I'm gonna make it if I'm constantly such a mess. I've heard of students using Calmettes, will these help? or do more harm than good? Any other suggestions?

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Our expert says:
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Gosh, lize, if you feel the need to weep over a 75 % performance, what on earth do all the lesser mortals in the class do ? Sounds like you're a bit of an over-achiever, driving yourself too hard with excessive expectations. Drug-wise I'm always reluctant to start a new medication DURING exams, because your reactions are ubnpredictablem and this isn't the time to experiment. If one can start earlier, I usually suggest Buspirone, which has NO useful immediate effects, but over a couple of weeks is an effctive anti-anxiety med that doesn't induce drowsiness or dependency or interfere with memory. As I don't prescribe ( obviously ) any of the non-prescription tablets, I don't SEE the effects of Calmettes, etc, though I'd think they could make one drowsy. Surely there must be a psychologist available to medical students, through student health, who can teach you quickly the routine of self-relaxation, which can help you to rapidly produce calm without drowsiness, whenever you need it, by progressively relaxing the muscles in your body while sitting comfortably, working your way through the body muscles ( also a good anatomy revision here !) and telling yourself positive messages about feeling calm, concentrated, and alert.

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Our users say:
Posted by: mooh | 2004/11/01

Hi Lize

I am a working 21 Year old and I am sty ding a Bcomm in risk management with Unisa and I try to run a full life in between work, studying and socializing but in doing all this I have learned that the stress is a lot and getting 75% average is not my focus anymore all I am looking for is a good symbol that will show to me that I have done the best I could under the circumstances. so my point is don't stress yourself out if you are putting in the effort that is good enough for anyone even your self because since I have come through to a institute of higher learning I have realize is is nothing like high school where we were spoon feed and you were sure to get your 85% for Accounting its different at varsity

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