Lorraine Bracco Treats Depression On Sopranos And Off The Air
Lorraine Bracco who plays a psychiatrist on the hit HBO series "The Sopranos"
has partnered with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer to launch an educational campaign
called "Why Live with Depression?"™ This campaign is designed to encourage
people with depression to seek treatment and provide them with information about
Thirty-four million Americans suffer from depression at some point
during their lives, yet only approximately half of them seek treatment for
it. In addition, only about one in five of those receive adequate treatment.
"I wasted a year thinking I could get better on my own and I don't
want other people to make the same mistake. You can't make up the lost time
that could have been spent with your family, your friends or at work - go
and speak with a doctor and share how you have been feeling," said Bracco,
who contacted Pfizer to partner on this education initiative.
Like many people suffering from depression, Bracco says she felt
the unnecessary stigma of the condition, which kept her from seeking treatment
sooner. Bracco describes her year with depression as a "lost year" during
which she felt "joyless, lifeless, disengaged." She finally talked to her
doctor, who helped her realize that although depression is a serious medical
condition, it is highly treatable. In fact, according to the National Institute
of Mental Health, more than 80 percent of people with depression who receive
treatment show improvement.
"When I was finally diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication,
I was a little afraid. I was afraid that taking an antidepressant would change
me and would take away the range of emotions that I needed to act, but that
didn't happen...it's not true," said Bracco. "Treatment didn't change me; it
made me a better version of myself. Within a short time my symptoms improved,
my relationships with my family and loved ones improved, and I was better
at being me. I liked myself more and my family was better because of it."
Through the campaign Web site, www.DepressionHelp.com,
people can learn more about Lorraine's personal story, begin to find information
about depression, and access talking points to help guide discussions with their
doctors about the best treatment plan for them. Bracco hopes the "Why Live
with Depression?"™ campaign will break down major barriers to treatment
by addressing some common misperceptions about antidepressant medications that
prevent people from seeking treatment.
"It has been shown that people's misperceptions about antidepressants
can stem from the lack of understanding about depression, which contributes
to their reluctance to seek medical attention," said Dr. Patrice Harris, a
private-practice psychiatrist and Medical Director of Georgia Rehabilitation
Outreach. "There are two common fears that people have about taking
antidepressant medication. They're afraid it is habit-forming or it can change
their personality, and both of those concerns are unfounded."
Depression is a serious medical condition that can lead to suicidal
thoughts and behavior. A combined analysis of 9 antidepressants showed an
increased risk from 2% to 4% in people under 18. This risk must be balanced
with the medical need. Those starting medication should be watched closely
for suicidal thoughts, worsening of depression, or unusual changes in behavior.
For more information about depression, click here.
Created: 4/8/2005  - Donnica Moore, M.D.