Depression: Bottom of the Mountain (cont.)

We enjoyed life well until my wife fell into depression for the second time in 1991. This time the suffering lasted two years. A third bout, in 1996, lasted six months. Then another six months in 2000. Then, in early 2002, she fell back into a depression again.

Causes

Each time she has fallen down this well, it's been triggered by some small concerns nagging her, and she starts to worry about them. It's like watching a snowball coming down a mountain -- it just gets bigger and bigger. And I can't stop it. Finally, it comes to rest at the bottom of the mountain and over time, the sun melts it. Then she gets well.

"When she runs out of yarn, she tears it down and starts all over again."

When my wife is well, she is witty and being with her is a great pleasure. But when she is down, she is a totally different person. Every day she'll say that she wants to die. Then I remind her, "It's not you that wants to die. You want the disease to die. You are a good person. You want to get well."

During some of these bouts my wife sometimes sits at the corner of our couch most of the day and knits a rectangular piece. When she runs out of yarn, she tears it down and starts all over again. I once asked her, "Why don't you knit something useful?" She replied, "I don't want to."

New, More Radical Treatment

A combination of Remeron, Desyrel, and Surmontil plus Ativan did not have the long-term affects we had hoped for, so later in 2002 we admitted her to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif., for ten weeks of treatment.

During the first six weeks she made no progress because she would not accept the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or shock therapy recommended by all the psychiatrists she had seen. Eventually, the hospital and I went to court to get the approval for her to receive the ECT. The court granted fifteen sessions, but she was well enough after twelve. With the ECT and the incredible compassion of the doctor in charge of her case, she's home now and is well again.

Summing Up

Depression is taxing not only to the one that suffers it, but also to all those around the depressed: relatives and friends. Coping requires lots of love and patience. Unlike physical illness, a depressed person cannot "think correctly". Those around the depressed must not take it lightly.

Oh God, depression is so bad!

The member story above may have been edited for clarity.

From WebMD: Some 7 million women in the United States have clinical depression, according to the National Mental Health Association, and some researchers estimate that only one out of every three women with depression is properly diagnosed.