Caitlin This Emotional Life - PBS

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Caitlin

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One of the Davies’ daughters suffers from a severe form of depression. She was always called the family’s “little sunshine” and was a kind and thoughtful, happy and outgoing, and very talkative young child. In middle school she became more anxious and withdrawn. The summer before 9th grade – facing a large class size of 750 – she began to express much concern about attending high school, and to first show signs that later were realized as depression, but then were believed to be just normal adolescent moody behavior.  

She was diagnosed with clinical depression, and began psychotherapy concurrently with medications.  Her moods improved at first, and she kept performing well in her everyday life. But as time went on, her depression was becoming more and more difficult to cope with, and various changes, increases and augments to the medications were tried. 

In January 2008, as the second semester of senior year began, she became extremely concerned about how she was feeling. She felt worse than ever, both mentally and physically. After consulting with many experts at the center, and trying a number of different medications to no benefit, she was now diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. She made the decision along with her family and her medical team to start a course of ECT (electroconvulsive shock therapy) in July 2008, in the hope she could quickly reach her goal of going away to school.

Finally, after 16 treatments in 6 weeks, the ECT began to improve her symptoms, and she felt well enough to go to college. Despite a difficult semester she worked hard at her studies, and even made the Dean’s list - a testament to her very strong determination.  She also became involved with the school’s local chapter of Active Minds, a national organization for college students to advocate for depression awareness, distribute information on treatment, and reduce stigma.

Together with new medications, ongoing monthly ECT maintenance and psychotherapy, she is doing much better. She hopes to have a career in childhood education or the science field, perhaps combining both of her interests, to work in public health or counseling.

More so than ever, she remains courageous and strong when facing challenges, and she continues to work hard towards complete remission from her depression.