Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative
Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative
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Patient Expert Program /

Sarah Kotranza

Anti-Depressants Saved My Life… Slowly

Anti-depressants saved my life…..slowly. For those of you who have not taken anti-depressants before you may not know that they can take 2-4 weeks to be fully effective. That means if that particular anti-depressant does not work well for you, then you have to wait 2-4 weeks to find that out, wean off of it, and start a new one and wait another 2-4 weeks.

Sounds difficult right? That is because it is very difficult. Especially if you are in a state of major depression and doing everything you can to pull yourself out. Then to make things worse the medication you so desperately want to work just is not working.

Finding the Right Medication

For me I was a bit luckier. The first medication I tried seemed to work well. It gave me the clarity and emotional stability I needed to work through the issues that were causing my postpartum depression to be so severe. After about a year of taking the medication it wasn’t working as well. I was having depressive episodes and was having difficulty moving through everyday life. I ended up increasing my dosage, and did this several more times.

Experience with a Clinical Trial

Finally, I entered a clinical trial for people with Major Depressive Disorder who have tried multiple treatments and still had breakthrough symptoms. This trial would map certain parts of my genetic makeup. It would use what they know about those parts of my genes that react to serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters. Based on those findings it would then suggest the best anti-depressants and note those likely to be least effective. And let me tell you, science worked! I changed medications and have been on the same dosage for over two years now. I have has very few breakthrough symptoms. In other words, the medications are working the way they are supposed to, and clinical research helped me figure out the best medication for me.

More Research is Needed

My hope is that research into mental health issues can continue to grow and expand. This is especially important for those experiencing perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. This is the most significant time in a person’s life and there are so many hormonal, personal, and just general life changes that having to also slog through a maternal mental health issue is just too much. Mother’s deserve care too, and they need to be seen as more than just a vessel for their children, but as humans themselves. There needs top be more research into new treatments, and new ways of determining the best treatment path. Through this research more mothers can focus on healing themselves and caring for their babies.

Sarah is one of the Maternal Mental Health Research Collaborative’s Patient Expert Advisors. Click here to find out more about this amazing group of moms!