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What psychiatry has done for me

Posted by emme on February 10, 2009, at 6:19:30

Dear All,

Id like to tell you a little about what psychiatry has done for me over the last decade. Paxil was my first antidepressant. I owe my dissertation to it. Id been terribly anxious and far more depressed than I even realized. After a few days on Paxil, my anxiety was much improved. After a few weeks, the depression was improved to the point where I could make real progress on my writing. When I defended a few months later, I understood for the first time in my life what a normal level of anxiety felt like (as opposed to excessive). My personal opinion is that I might not have finished my degree without treatment.

Like many other folks, the Paxil pooped out on me. I dont blame the doctor or the manufacturer. Im grateful I got some help from it. I do know people for whom Paxil or other SSRIs do not lose efficacy.

Ive tried many drugs and drug combinations. Ive tried drugs that helped but were not tolerable due to side effects, and drugs that made me worse. Thanks to a medicine combination that was not available when I first started treatment (Lamictal + Abilify), I have been doing relatively well for a couple of years now. Its not perfect, but I have been able to move to a new state, start a new and challenging job, and take recreational classes. There are bumps in the road and sometimes we tweak things to try to minimize side effects; those bumps can be painful and scary. But overall its been a vast improvement, and I have a shot at reclaiming a life that had been horribly impaired by my depression.

I owe a lot of this to a kind, caring, and knowledgeable psychopharmacologist. She made sure we checked for other causes (thyroid, lupus, Lyme, etc.), did her best to think creatively about how to treat me, listened to my concerns, and did not give up. She kept in contact with my therapist to make sure she had an accurate understanding of how I was doing. I was quite lucky to find her.

I dont know for sure that my meds wont stop working. Who knows how long Ill remain in remission? And I dont mean to invalidate the negative experiences people have had with psychiatrists. All I know is that I have a chronic illness (treatment resistant depression) that has been made manageable by caring doctors doing their best with whats available to them. It is my hope that this message will encourage people who are feeling discouraged.

May we all find peace.





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