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HA

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Psychotic Depression Series: Overcoming Depression
Michael Scott The Vancouver Sun Vancouver, B.C.: Feb 2, 2007 pg. A.7

Depression
Definition: Some types of depression are more profound and more resistant to treatment than others. Psychotic depression, for instance, combines depressive symptoms with hallucinations or delusions. About one quarter of all people who are admitted to the hospital with depression suffer from psychotic depression.

While the symptoms can be similar to those of other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, people with psychotic depression are generally aware that their thoughts are not true. But the thoughts may be so extreme as to cause people to try to hide them, making diagnosis difficult.

Some types of depression are so resistant to treatment that physicians turn to last-resort steps such as electroconvulsive therapy (in which seizures are induced by passing electricity through a patient's brain), or deep brain stimulation, an experimental surgical treatment in which electrodes implanted deep inside the brain are used to stimulate a target area.

Debbie Sesula is president of the White Rock/South Surrey branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, and is a program coordinator for the B.C. Schizophrenia Society. Starting in the late 1980s, she began to suffer from psychotic depression that proved resistant to treatment. She has told portions of her story before, in an effort to help other sufferers, through the HereToHelp website.

'The year is 1988. I was just your average university student struggling through as I was determined to get my BA degree. Being in my last year, I had high hopes for the future and nothing was going to get in the way. Or so I thought.

"I began to find it almost impossible to face another day. The inner pain was getting worse. I felt so inadequate, unworthy and unwanted. It was all so overwhelming. I barely attended classes, I was doing lousy on my exams, and I didn't even bother doing my oral presentations. I was totally unable to express how I felt; all I could do was cry and withdraw. I felt so alone. That aloneness was the most painful -- that gap between me and the rest of the world. The fear of being alone like this forever was agonizing. I was trapped. It was all so hopeless.

"Exhaustion overtook me, as it took every ounce of strength I had just to do the simplest things like taking a shower or brushing my teeth.

"Nobody knew the torment that was going on inside of me; outwardly I appeared perfectly normal. I didn't care anymore and I certainly didn't feel like living.

"I became more and more withdrawn. If I wasn't crying, I was tossing and turning trying to sleep. I was on edge and everything irritated me. There was so much turmoil inside that I thought I would go crazy.

"Despite the turmoil I was experiencing I did graduate and received my BA degree in psychology. After a series of unsuccessful suicide attempts, I was hospitalized a number of times. The turmoil continued. The suicidal thoughts didn't end. The depression and anxiety just kept getting worse and worse.

"I then went into a psychotic depression. Psychosis basically means disconnecting from reality. I lived in a haze of medications and nothing was helping. I was obsessed with taking my life. As a last resort they gave me shock treatment.

"I was not ready to face the outside world. I was terrified. I had lost my entire identity . . . .

"I was quite heavily medicated, but the psychotic states did finally come to an end. . . .

"Reality continued to hurt for seven years as the depression lingered on. There were periods of relief every so often. It wasn't non-stop torment anymore.

"Gradually, I started to think and feel in a more rational way. Maybe life did have some possibilities; maybe there was hope after all.

"I felt ready to get going in life and to fight to get over any obstacles that got in my way. It started feeling like the war was coming to an end. Life was worth living after all.

"How do I maintain my recovery? For me, it's all about self- management and balance. Self-management for me is about being aware of what I need to stay mentally healthy, such as knowing when to say 'no', putting aside one day a week as a 'me' day to spend as I wish, knowing when to ask for help, challenging my mind by learning something new each year, not taking life so seriously, having two cats and doing things I love such as travelling."
 

Halo

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Thanks for the post HeartArt....I can identify with a lot of what the she wrote.

I was totally unable to express how I felt; all I could do was cry and withdraw. I felt so alone. That aloneness was the most painful -- that gap between me and the rest of the world. The fear of being alone like this forever was agonizing. I was trapped. It was all so hopeless.

"Nobody knew the torment that was going on inside of me; outwardly I appeared perfectly normal. I didn't care anymore and I certainly didn't feel like living.
 

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