I recently started training for a half marathon. It is excruciating. Getting up early every morning, putting on my running gear and hitting the roads or the treadmill to pound away for kilometre after kilometre invariably leaves me (usually about halfway through) gasping for air, sweating profusely and wondering why on earth anyone would be stupid enough to do this to herself! Then, after my shower, on my way to work, when the endorphins kick in and I am feeling on top of the world I remember why it is that I do this to myself, and the following morning I get up again and repeat the whole cycle all over again.
This morning during the “I feel like I’m going to die phase” of my run” it struck me how similar training is to being treated for a mental illness such as Major Depression. In the realm of psychiatry there is very little that happens straight away, which in a world that is driven by instant gratification can be immensely frustrating for all concerned. When I see my patients for the first time, if we decide on medication, I explain the effects (including how long they take to have an effect) and side effects to them. Invariably I get a call a few days later and they say to me but Dr, it’s been 5 days and the medication isn’t working yet. My answer is always the same…it IS working, it’s just that the effects are subtle, it will take a while before you notice them, please be patient.
Management of a complicated disease such as depression is not simple! It encompasses many factors including diet, exercise, lifestyle, supplementation and if necessary, medication, all of which needs to be considered in the context of each individual patient. A one size fits all approach is not possible.
You cannot wake up one morning and expect to run 21km, likewise if you have been diagnosed with depression you will not wake up one morning without depression. Management of depression takes time, patience and persistent work with your trainers (aka Psychiatrist and psychologist). Slow and steady wins the race, it is a marathon not a sprint but in the long term, if you are willing to work as part of the team, you will be able to win.
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