Recognizing your worth
“This whole time,” Adrienne says, looking back on years of self-doubt and uncertainty, “I’ve been wondering what’s wrong with me.” It was the birth of her daughter that made Adrienne realize that she finally needed to make what felt wrong into what could feel right.
The first step was seeing a psychiatrist for the first time and learning that she had a chemical imbalance in her brain, which manifested in the widely-known but often stigmatized condition of depression. “It was a relief to be diagnosed just because I never really clued in that I was depressed. I just thought, oh, it’s just me. It’s just how I am.”
It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of people suffering from depression have not received any kind of treatment for it. And as medical researcher Wayne explains, this is what makes depression so dangerous. In contrast to other diseases, “depression is very stigmatizing and people often look at it as if it was somehow the person’s own fault."
After Adrienne’s diagnosis, she worked with her physician to identify the treatment and lifestyle changes that would help elevate her mood and restore her quality of life. “Yoga, exercise, diet,” she says, “there’s a lot of changes I’ve made that help along with the medication.”
Wayne adds that, while medication has made a life-changing difference for patients like Adrienne, there is still a long way to go. “We focus on finding new treatment options for individuals who either can't get well with conventional treatments or who can't stay well,” he says. Time is also a factor: “current treatments take three weeks or more to become effective,” he says. “We want to be able to treat depression rapidly.”
For Adrienne, her family’s compassion is what made her recovery possible. “I think my greatest support is my husband. I can always depend on him. And I know that I can go to my doctor and discuss my medications and I can make lifestyle changes that can help me so that I don’t get to a really low place again.”
Wayne also sees a brightening horizon. “One of the things that inspire me is the recognition that we have a real chance now to make a difference in the clinic,” he says. “I am surrounded by other researchers that feel the same. We share an excitement, an optimism, a hope that we are going to make a difference in transforming the lives of people who have depression. And that we’re going to do it in the next few years.”