Some are reluctant to seek help.
"They think, 'I have no right to be depressed.' They feel guilty," he said.
Severe depression affects about 14 million Americans. It is the No. 1 cause of disability in women worldwide. Psychiatrists and neurologists now understand there is a connection between severe depression and dementia later in life.
"We know this isn't a character flaw. Our hope is someday to eradicate this," Thistlethwaite said.
Carper said her depression, even with medication, had gotten so bad it affected her ability to work. Her thought processes were dull. Her vocabulary changed.
She decided to tell co-workers of her struggle. Some said they realized her issues; others were shocked.
"It took me a long time to tell people, but I felt I had to disclose it," she said. "There is no shame in this."
"I developed panic attacks - I thought it was my heart," she added. "I even had my heart checked."
Within a week of starting daily treatments, during which she sat in a comfortable chair and watched television, Carper noticed differences.
"Within a week I began to spontaneously laugh - something I had stopped doing. I was able to think again. My vocabulary came back. People even noticed my gait had changed," she said.
Carper is hopeful her recently completed treatments will have lasting effects. Thistlethwaite is hopeful the treatment will benefit many patients and be another key to solving a disease he and his colleagues in psychiatry, neurology and even general practice see on a daily basis.
"The brain is a mysterious organ," he said.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.
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