PATIENT BIOGRAPHIES

Three years after Anne Smith was married her husband suffered a major depressive episode. At the time she had a 1-year-old child and was expecting another. Her husband recovered and resumed his career and family life, but he has had to remain on medication and continues to be monitored by a psychiatrist, attending therapy sessions regularly.

Anne's 13-year-old daughter suffered a traumatic medical event and, in the aftermath, became depressed. Her depression worsened throughout adolescence, and despite medical intervention she experienced her first episode of mania when she was 18 years old. She spent 3 months in a psychiatric hospital. Once she was released it took 2 years of intensive treatment before she could consider resuming her academic career.

Anne's daughter continues to struggle with the illness, and Anne is in close communication with the doctors who are overseeing her treatment away from home. Although her independence has been compromised to the degree of extra support she requires, she has gained so much by returning to the life of a college student and testing her limits instead of allowing the illness to limit her.

At the age of 9 years, one of Anne's sons began to show signs of depression. He was treated for depression with medication and responded rapidly to treatment. Within a year he was off medication and back to normal. At the age of 15 he again began to exhibit symptoms of depression. After months of therapy his condition worsened, and a psychiatric evaluation indicated bipolar disorder. Given his sister's history with the illness, the doctor treated him aggressively, and he responded well to medication while continuing therapy sessions.

All three members of Anne's family will remain on medications indefinitely. The family is grateful for the care that each doctor has provided and the dedication each has shown. They are thankful to be living in an era when medication to treat these conditions is available.

Anne's family experience with this illness has been a painful and often terrifying journey, affecting several generations. There has been an ebb and flow to the illness, even with medication. What the medication has allowed is the dynamic of the disease to fall within a livable radius. Despite a family history of depression and suicide, Anne is hopeful that with vigilance, astute medical intervention, and the unwavering love and support of family and friends, the outcome for those in her family who suffer from depression will be to experience what it is to be fully engaged in life.

Anthony Sansone was born in the late 1940s into a large extended family who resided in the same town. An unusually avid reader in his family, he was often scoffed at by family members as a child but opted still to pursue his educational goals. He obtained a BS in history and foreign languages followed by a Master's degree in education/ history and had further advanced study in foreign languages. Anthony is multilingual and currently works as a teacher of foreign language. He enjoys walking and exercising and loves reading. He began receiving mental health services in 1974 while working as a teacher; he has been in therapy and has received medication for depression and anxiety. In 1993 he was diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer, which exacerbated his depression and anxiety. He still recalls his experience with cancer as a significant emotional trauma in his life. A survivors group was extremely helpful in dealing with the illness and his reaction to it, feeling highly devastated by the diagnosis. Presently, under the care of his psychiatrist, symptoms of depression and anxiety are under reasonable control as Anthony continues to work and enjoy life.

 
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