Depression: Out of the Shadows: Live Blogging

I’m on EST so I’m watching the Depression PBS show. I’ll be live blogging about it because I have nothing better to do with my life. Probably no interesting observations but, like I said, I have nothing better to do right now.

UPDATE: Jane Pauley doesn’t appear until 10.25.

9.07 pm – Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon is sharing his story about his bout of depression. It doesn’t help that his mother, who suffered from a terminal illness, chose to end her life.

9.09 – Dr. Myrna Weissman says that depression "is a biological disorder. It’s not all in your head."

9.12 – The show highlights an adolescent named Emma who’s been struggling with depression since 5th grade. She began "acting out" as a form of self-medication. She ended up going to to an out-of-state psychiatric hospital.

9.15 – Cut to an adolescent male, Hart, who has been suffering from depression since 6th grade. After going to a hospital, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

9.19 – Jed, a 20-year-old college student killed himself supposedly from undiagnosed depression. Dr. Thomas Insel says that suicide is almost twice as common as homicide in the United States.

9.21 – Drs. Geed(?) and Casey at NAMI are using MRI to further research in adolescent depression. An explanation on the neurochemical brain functions in adolescent depression follows.

9.25 – A narrative on postpartum depression begins. Ellie’s husband videotaped Ellie with the baby, Graham, shortly after his birth, and you could see the unhappiness of postpartum of depression on her face. In the homemade video, she holds her child while saying that she had suicidal thoughts the day before and wanted to die because she "couldn’t do this" anymore.

9.29 – Cut to Shep Nuland, author of Lost In America, and explains the circumstances that led to his depression.

9.32 – Dashaun, a member of the Bloods gang, suffered from early life trauma that led to his bouts of depression.

This probably goes without saying but so far, the program is replete with different doctors, none of which appear in segments other than the first one they were featured in.

9.37 – "When you gang bang, it’s just a form of suicide."

9.38 – Segue to Terrie Williams who not only helped Dashaun write his story and helped him recover from his depression, but also suffers from a mild form of depression, dysthymia. Dysthymia is estimated to affect 10-15 million Americans. One of the symptoms is overeating.

9.40 – Williams mentions that stigma of mental illness in the African American community prevents African Americans from seeking treatment.

9.41 – Philip Burguieres(?), a former CEO, suffers from depression and discusses the stigma of mental illness in corporate America.

They’re really covering the whole gamut.

The hubby is getting frustrated because the segments are really just that – segments and they never fully finish anyone’s story but jump back and forth.

9.45 – Back to Andrew Solomon from the beginning of the show. He’s currently taking Remeron, Zoloft, ZYprexa, Wellbutrin, Nemenda(? an alzheimer’s drug), Ranantadine(?), two kinds of fish oil. HOLY CRAP. (I think he’s also on Prozac but don’t hold me to that.)

9.47 – We’re being walked through the neurotransmitter explanation.

9.48 – Poor Andrew thinks he wouldn’t be on as many medications today if he had been on medication a long time ago.

9.48 – Ooh, look! It’s Richard Friedman, the psychologist/psychiatrist from the NYTimes.

9.52 – Back to adolescent Hart Lipton, who is in a special
school that gives him specialized attention. He has bipolar II. He is
on an antidepressant and a mood stabilizer.

9.52 – Emma takes one antidepressant and engages in talk therapy. She tried several different ones before she found one that worked.

9.53  – The Narrator admits that meds in young people isn’t
fully researched and may be a problem. He mentions the black box
warning on antid’s.

9.55 – NIMH docs are working on faster-acting meds for depression – as in 1 to 2-hour relief. Guinea pig patients were administered intravenous ketamine for depression. (WTF???) One of the patients, Carl, says he felt instantly better.

9.58 – Back to Shep. Doctors suggested performing a lobotomy but a resident intervened and suggested ECT. They cut to a scene from One Bird Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in which Jack Nicholson got ECT. Shep says it was worth it and that he began to feel better by the 11th treatment.

10.00 – ECT especially works well on the elderly. A woman, Sue, who developed late onset depression at age 65 comes back for her 9th treatment of ECT. It helps her. Her husband says, "She’s back to her old self."

The next hour of the show under the cut…

10.04 – The program now turns to treatment-resistant or refractory depression. Every single form of treatment medication, including 80 ECT shocks, failed for Deana.

10.06 – Area 25 (in the brain) holds the key to possibly unlocking the key to treatment-resistant depression.

Note: It gets me that so many CT scan and MRI photos are used to show the problems areas that depression affects, yet I don’t know a single person who has been evaluated or treated for depression in this way. I’m curious to see whether they cover VNS (vagus nerve stimulator).

10.09 – Deana underwent surgery to get a pulse generator (I’m guessing this is VNS, actually) in her chest to stimulate and spark activity in Area 25 of her brain.

10.10 – Cut back to Philip having lunch with former pro football player John Sage, who has also struggled with depression.

10.12 – Philip, who oversees the Houston Texans football team, says that the Texans team is the only football team with mental health parity. He’s on a crusade to get mental health parity in all aspects of life, especially in the workplace.

10.14 – Dr. Insel comes back for commentary.

10.14 – Took Ellie 4 months to recover from PPD.

10.16 – Dr. Kim (from the earlier PPD segment) comes back to help Ellie who wants to give Graham a brother. They’ve decided because of her risk of PPD again, she will be taking an antidepressant through her pregnancy. They don’t say what.

10.17 – You need to completely trust your therapist and if you don’t, then find someone else.

10.18 – Dashaun (aka Jawi) and Terrie come back and discuss how Terrie chose to mentor Dashaun to recover.

The doctors from the different segments are making reappearances.

10.22 – Shep is back.

10.22 – The Jed Foundation, created by Jed’s family, works with a variety of organizations including MtvU to raise awareness of mental illness.

10.24 – Back to Andrew being happy. His meds help him.

10.24 – Hart has found the right kind of medication and the proper environment to "keep him on an even keel."

10.25 – Jane Pauley appears and says stay tuned as "we have a candid conversation on depression."

10.27 – The experts: Dr. Dennis Charney, Dr. Annelle Primm, Dr. Ken Duckworth. Duckworth is the medical director of NAMI.

10.30 – Jane is already talking too much.

10.31 – Charney says that you are more vulnerable to depression or bipolar disorder if it’s genetic.

10.33 – Depression is a medical disease. We now know that as a fact. – Jane Pauley’s quote.

10.34 – Depression is several diseases with a different cause – Dr. Charney

10.36 – Jane talks too much but asks Duckworth about how to diagnose childhood depression properly.

10.38 – Jane gets semi-close to the childhood bipolar disorder discussion but nicks it and steers the conversation toward misdiagnosing bipolar disorder with unipolar disorder.

10.39 – Duckworth says that diagnoses can change over time. (I didn’t know that.)

Jane may become really annoying to some viewers because she’s always interjecting with her personal experiences and commentary.

Another note: It isn’t really a discussion. It’s a "talk." All the doctors seem in agreement about treatment (medication) and there are no opposing views or opinions about alternative forms of treatment.

Charney speaks a lot; Primm is mute.

10.44 – I finally figure out that Primm is on the program to balance out the segment because of Dashaun’s story.

10.46 – Charney recommends a combo of talk therapy and meds.

10.47 – Whaddaya know? Jane directs a question to Primm about Terrie. Hooray for diversity!

10.53 – Depression affects other diseases. What a revelation.

10.55 – Jane offers her closing thoughts and ends the show.

A personal analysis is forthcoming.

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2 Comments

  1. Gianna said,

    May 21, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I watched about 10 minutes and couldn’t continue…not sure why…just found it depressing! ha!

  2. May 22, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Does anyone else get the ironic name for Dr. Duckworth? Get it… duck= quack?
    Okay, I’m going back to my corner now.


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