Interview


 



 Q. Dana, thank you for agreeing to do an interview with medgrip.com

A. It is my pleasure.

Q. Do you enjoy hearing from readers and how might they get in contact with you?
A. I hear from people from all over the world. Some have expressed their appreciation for work I've done. Majority of incoming mail contains questions about particular treatment option. It is a reward that I've never expected when I started 'This is not about Prozac'.

Readers can get in touch with me by E-mail: webmaster@medgrip.com

Q. How the idea of writing that book came about? Have you ever thought you would be as successful as you have become in your second career - writing?
A. Actually I don't consider myself as a writer. English is my second language and it is obviously creating a lot of limitations. We cannot talk about second career, or whatever you call it. I am an ordinary human being, who as it happened went trough severe depression over a numbers of years. Combination of my own experience with tremendous research has produced this E-book. I don' think that in near future I'll write something else of that sort.

Q. What is Depression?
A. It is difficult to give you a comprehensive answer within a limit of this interview. Well, let me try. Depression is a condition when one is feeling down and hopeless on everything; feeling tired practically all the time; not able to concentrate on even simple task. It can prolong for weeks, months, and in many cases years at a time.
Depression is a serious medical illness; it's not something that one has made up in his head. It caused by chemical imbalance, deficiency of certain chemicals in one's brains. Fortunately we can regain this deficiency and restore the balance.

Q. What is a simple task in context of the subject? Doesn't it depend on one's intelligence. It sounds ambiguous.
A. It has nothing to do with one's intelligence. Depression doesn't care about someone's IQ. On a pick of my depression I used to have difficulties to punch my PIN number in ATM machine or to find an account number on a credit card statement in order to write it on a check.

Q. May I ask you perhaps a trivial question?
Depression,
Why you – a person with seemingly successful business, good family environment, with no any visible reasons for that got into deep depression and had been suffering for so many years?

A. It would have been much easier to diagnose and treat depression if a mathematical formula for the condition exists. Unfortunately very common perception of the disease that one should experience a catastrophical event, something really bad that triggers depression. In reality everything is much more complicated. It is absolutely not necessarily to get through major catastrophic life event to fell into deep depression. And according to statistic 50% of severely depressed people can’t link their depression with a particular sad event in their life.

Q. What has been the biggest surprise about the response to “This is not about Prozac”?
A. There is nothing in particular, which could qualify as a surprise. And I didn’t expect any. The initial idea of this E-book was to help people to overcome their mental problems, which they’ve had in many cases for more than a decade. It is a long and complicated process. Once in a while I’m having in my Emails testimonials that my book helped to overcome major depression in two weeks. I am skeptical however reading these notes.

Q. What's your best advice to someone in a suicide crisis?
A. My advice will be a very trivial one. To anyone who is suffering that badly:
Please take a couple of hours every day and read as much as you can about depression.

Q. Depression chat rooms?
A. Not in particular. The overwhelming majority of visitors there are depression sufferers themselves, chatting with them wouldn’t be mush beneficial.

Q. Is there a medicine, which could be considered as a universal for all of the depression sufferers?
A. At this point there is no such magic pill. All of the antidepressants have been shown to work to some extend. Unfortunately, they don’t work equally for everybody. Finding the right antidepressant is something of a chemistry experiment – trying to match the chemistry of the medication with the user’s unique brain chemistry, which is one of the unexplored comparing with other organs. General rule is - if one antidepressant therapy doesn't work, you should try another.

Q. It means more pills, more experiments with various medicines with various side effects?
A. Unfortunately, side effects like weight gain and withdrawal difficulties are reported with SSRI’s and Tricyclic Antidepressants as well. It means only two things:
-- We have no choice (especially dealing wiith severely depressed people), so we have to choose the smaller of a two evils
-- The withdrawal period must be paid promiinent attention. Actually the withdrawal plan must be drafted even before one will start with any antidepressant. I dedicated the entire chapter to this subject in my E-book.

Q. How do I know if one is in a bad mood or he is experiencing Depression?
A. That’s actually a major question when initial conversation about the subject is started.
For long period of time I looked at many things through prism of my “bad mood”, or at least I was thinking that way. Now I know that my “bad mood” in combination with other major symptoms was a Depression as it is defined.
Depression in its most severe form (which we call a Major Depressive Episode) is a serious disorder that requires treatment. You may be experiencing a Major Depressive Episode if your depressed mood lasts for at least two weeks or you lose interest or pleasure in nearly all of your activities.

The general description of a person diagnosed with a Depression is someone who is sad, hopeless, discouraged, or "down in the dumps". They may also be more irritable, angry, or frustrated than usual.
Keep in mind that we all have "bad moods" at times. It is when the bad mood continues for a longer period that you may be experiencing a Depression. I included a “Check List” into my book. It is a standard list, used by most of the neurological and psychiatric institutions. I’ve added to it some things from my personal experience.

Q. What can one do if he/she found having several of these symptoms?
A. First, see your Physician so that other sources for these symptoms can be ruled out.
And if nothing wrong with him physically make an appointment to see a mental health professional. This can be a therapist, counselor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other physician. Self-education, knowledge about everything what is actually a depression will prevail in later treatment of course. In a real world there is no professional who will understand better his/her mind and body needs. But an initial assessment of good physiatrist is sort of the first step.

Q. What can a psychiatrist do to help someone who has a Depression?
A. A health care professionals may make several recommendations first; psychiatrists and physicians may prescribe an antidepressant medication. These medications can regulate sleep and boost his mood. Nevertheless, they do little to change the way he thinks and copes or changes his environment.
If something in his life is causing him to feel depressed, he needs someone with whom he can share his concerns. Increasing pleasure in his life also can be helpful and rewarding. Proper exercise, sleep, nutrition, and activity are important self-help remedies that can relieve some symptoms Depression. It is important to remember that if you have Depression, it can be treated. There are many options available. These include inpatient hospitalization for those who are critically suicidal, outpatient psychotherapy for varied lengths of time, use of support groups or day treatment programs.

Q. About 20 million Americans, suffers from an anxiety disorder. In your book you told us that there is strong connection between Depression and Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder. At some point you are almost putting an equation mark between them.
A. Almost but not undoubtedly. I’ve wouldn’t be so certain in this assessment. Just as I said earlier – All this sort of things are results of chemical imbalance in one’s brain – area on which scientists just starting their real exploration. Comparing to some other human organs where we know everything (almost) in case with human brain we are somewhere in 18-th century if not in 17-th.
Approximately until early 1980, anxiety disorders weren't even officially recognized. Hence anxiety-ridden people weren't getting the medical attention or comprehensive psychiatric analysis. And even today, a lot more need to be done in order to gain absolute certainty. So the deep self-examination becoming a number one factor, the starting point in Depression Treatment. Nobody will know you better than yourself. My E-book is a real help in that matter.

Q. You said in your E-book that you were an anxious child. How this anxiety expressed itself? How did it affect you? Did it contribute to your depression?

A. First thing I remember was really uncomfortable feeling about performing some task near the blackboard in front of the class. Despite the fact that some of my classmates were also nervous about performing at the front of the class, they never got physically sick about having to do it even when they didn’t prepare the homework at all. Even after getting very low score they seemingly were absolutely cool about it half an hour later.
In contrary, I was deeply affected the rest of the day even if I’ve got an A. As I understand now it was the first red flag that needed to pay attention at.
I used to worry a lot about my parents getting into car accident and dying. Seven PM was the usual time when my mother appeared at home after her part time in a Law Firm. If she wasn’t home at 7:05 my anxiety started to elevate. No arguments, such as bad traffic or an extra legal paper she supposed to take care of didn’t really work for me. When I talked to my girlfriend about it, she would say that she never gave sings of that sort a thought. At that age, children usually feel immortal and hardly ever think about death and dying.
When I was 14, a next-door neighbor died of stroke. I worried constantly that I would die from something like that. I was always concerned about myself. It like I’ve always been in unbreakable loop of constant worry about something.

Q. Can you give couple of anxiety examples from your adult life?
A. Well, the fear of flying, this is first one what is on top of my head, and also the perfect example of “hidden anxiety”. I think that almost everyone is experiencing some kind of mental discomfort boarding a plane. The difference between everyone and me was that I was deeply effected the rest of the day and even the day after the flight. This is the nature of anxiety disorder, the basic definition of it, to speak more plainly: fear, which doesn’t go away even when the source of it has been gone.
Second example is constant anxiety going to public events. I’ve always felt uncomfortable to be in a group of people, pretending participation in a conversation. Very often my nervousness obstructed me from formulating my idea clearly. I looked ridiculous all the time or at least I felt that way.

Q. You dedicated the entire chapter to how inner circle of the patient should react to minimize his discomfort and to expedite healing.
A. Because it is an extremely important component in the whole effort of concurring depression. Every one should realize it.

Q. From your personal and professional experience to what extent do you think can one overcome his depression?
A. If I’ll say that everyone can get rid of it completely it probably wouldn’t be true. About 60-65% of all patients perhaps can say that their depression is completely gone. Another 30% is having huge improvements. It doesn’t mean that they are invincible in a future. My experience points out that in many cases depression is returning back. Sometimes it could be a very small, insignificant negative event that could trigger such regression. But it also means that he should double and triple his effort toward concurring depression.

Q. Can you please spell out what exactly do you mean by other options?
A. First of all physical exercises. It may sound strange, but pumping iron - is what I recommend prior to antidepressants, and in some cases first for depressed people. It doesn’t have (yet) a scientific theoretical platform under it, but has been proved repeatedly by practice. Bodybuilding is transforming not only human body but a human mind as well. There is a very strong connection between both.
Learning to deal with people that cause mental discomfort and anxiety.
Learning breathing and relaxation techniques
Learning positive self-talk.
Attending course of psychiatrics sessions.
Many of these are difficult to describe briefly, so please check out the book.

Q. Have you put psychiatrist’s sessions at the last place accidentally?


A. Well, I did it deliberately. Let me explain my point. Traditionally for a combination of reasons individual and group psychiatric counseling is considered like very powerful depression treatment option. In contrary I wouldn’t have rated it that high. First of all there are not that many real professionals in that area. (A graduation diploma from the most prestigious colleges doesn’t mean anything yet in this field). It is commonly that good psychiatrist has a long waiting list. Even if you are lucky and were able to get one it is still under a big question mark that real chemistry between you and him will be established. Almost in all of the cases the “Appointment Effect” is converting real genuine emotions of the patient to some surrogate replacement of it. Most of the people will never feel comfortable enough to reveal all nuances of their sensations. There is also different group, which use to exaggerate every negative emotion they have.
Every depression sufferer must realize that finally only his/her intelligence and education in the subject will lead him toward recovery. So, consider psychiatrist as an initial push, the person who can prescribe you certain medication. However daily coping with your condition, navigation through it toward healing is totally your duty and your responsibility.

Q. New findings suggest that the reason some people become depressed and others don't depends in part on which version of a specific gene a person carries. The gene, called 5-HTT, regulates the movement of Serotonin. What are your thoughts about it?


A. I think it very well might be. I have studied some publications about it. However at this point I don’t see any practical use of it.


Q. In your e-book you are not mentioning Electro-Convulsive Therapy (shock therapy) I have heard it could be effective in treating very severe depressions.

A. At some point of my fight with illness I was considering this option. I have met one person whose self-assessment I could trust. Per his words it has completely turned his life. The result was astonishing. But by that point I was significantly better, so I was hesitant going for this. Again it was my subjective perception of the procedure. In fact it could be safer than antidepressants with lesser side effect. I regret that I couldn’t say much about it, but I am happy that I don’t need it now.