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A Participant’s Perspective

A tweet about an intriguing new research study turned out to be an incredibly significant communication after Shauna (not her real name) got laid off from her job as a lawyer. The 28 year old, who moved to New York after law school, had been doing well; she’d met the man she wanted to marry and had found fulfillment in doing important and satisfying work for a non-profit. But for a month she tried to find a therapist knowing that, as the last to be hired, she may very well be the first casualty from a company facing the onslaught of a tough economy.

When she learned she was being let go, Shauna’s mood took a turn for the worse: “I could not leave my bed. I cried all day long.” Not only had she lost her income, but she was denied unemployment and she was unable to contribute some of the money for her own wedding.

After a screening she was enrolled in the EMBARC study. She’s now at the half-way point. But in the early part of the study she realized after talking with the research therapist that she may have had low levels of depression throughout her life. Bouts of depression had surfaced at a very early age. Shauna noted that “The earliest depression I can remember is when I was six and I tried to kill myself.” She added, “Thankfully, six year olds don’t know how to do that very well.”

Unable to articulate what was wrong exactly, Shauna had told her parents she thought she needed to go to a doctor but her concerns weren’t taken seriously.

Still, she did well in school and life was fairly uneventful until she developed panic attacks about seven years ago. “I was on medication twice for short amounts of time and I remember them telling me we have no way of knowing which drug will work best for you,” she said. Still her experience with treatment went well, a far cry from what she’s witnessed happen to a close friend whose treatment for depression went virtually untreated for a decade as he bounced from one medication to the next without improvement.

Shauna is doing well today and looking forward to her wedding day. Of EMBARC, she said: “It’s a really neat study and the idea of what it could do and how it could revolutionize treatment makes me very hopeful for the future.”



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