Mood Disorder Talk with Dr. DePaulo

On Wednesday, December 13, my husband and I attended a NAMI Metro Baltimore event at the Loch Raven branch of the library.  Dr. DePaulo was there to speak about mood disorders.  Dr. DePaulo, who I briefly mention in Carrion-Miles to Purgatory Part 1, is the co-director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins, as well as the director of the psychiatry department.  His bio page on the Hopkins website says about him:

“When he’s on rounds, it’s not the same physician who addresses a depressed, tearful elderly woman, a film editor numbed by his new bipolar diagnosis, a young mother with a ladder of cuts up her arm. Of course, different illnesses and life histories demand some adapting, and DePaulo does that well. His empathy enfolds patients”

My husband and I got there early, so early that we were the first people there.  We killed some time looking around the library, that particular branch is very small, so it didn’t take long to browse.  We headed into the meeting room the event was to take place in, and had our pick of any chair.  We chose the front row.

People began filtering in and choosing their seats.  Dr. DePaulo arrived before the talk was to start, and sat down.  He chatted with those of us who were already there.  Since my husband and I were in the front row, we made an obvious choice to chat with.  I awkwardly tried to make conversation, but did a poor job.  I’ve never been good at conversation with strangers, and I must admit, I was a bit star-struck.

Once everyone settled in their seats, Dr. DePaulo explained that he gave the night a vague title because he likes to aim his talks on what the attendees want to know.  He went around and asked some people about what questions they may have.

The conversation, and that’s how it felt, conversational, ranged from new or alternative treatments, such as psilocybin (a psychedelic drug), to the importance of patient families telling psychiatrists what they observe.  I had a question about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).  As I have previously wrote about, I underwent a treatment of TMS.  I wanted to know if TMS and ECT effect the same part of the brain, and if so, would one not being effective for someone mean the other also would not be effective.

Dr. DePaulo explained that they are different.  TMS, he said, is better for less severe depressions, and ECT is something that works remarkably well in extreme cases.  ECT, however, only is a temporary fix and does not have lasting effects.  I found this both interesting and helpful.  My TMS treatment was not very effective and now I wonder why I was approved for TMS, if it is best for mild depression.  My multiple hospitalizations show that my depression is never really a mild case.

In his talk, Dr. DePaulo talked about the great benefits of using a older medications, such as Lithium.  Not only are the long term effects known, Dr. DePaulo said, but Lithium and tricyclic antidepressants have a high success rate.

Dr. DePaulo was an engaging speaker, and handled the range of questions well.  It is obvious that Dr. DePaulo cares about his patients as well as about the field in general.

After the talk ended, my husband and I went to speak with Dr. DePaulo for a moment.  By this point, I no longer felt anxious about talking to such an intelligent person.  We asked for a recommendation of someone who we could consult with about pregnancy and psychiatric medication.  While I plan to stay with my own psychiatrist through any potential pregnancies, a second opinion is always a good idea.  Dr. DePaulo recommended someone and give me her number as well as his own secretary’s number.  He then sent a text to his secretary with my name and why I would be calling.

In summary, I learned a lot that evening and was able to have a good interaction with the speaker.  I also got a good recommendation from him.  If you have a chance to go somewhere that Dr. DePaulo might be talking, I highly recommend it.


Dr. DePaulo wrote a book tilted Understanding Depression.  It is out of print, but you can buy a used copy on amazon.

We also met someone who has a book coming out soon, her book is title Denying My Verdict, I cannot find any information about purchasing this book online, but I will update when I do.

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