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Depression Health Center

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Role Reversal

Actress Lorraine Bracco plays a psychiatrist on TV. She's also battled depression in her real life.

Tough Times continued...

"A tough divorce, another major breakup, a major custody battle, and a very sick child -- that definitely contributed to it," she says. "But it was only after my life started getting back into order, when my life was on an upswing, that I took a downswing."

People feel the symptoms of depression in different ways. Some can't get out of bed. Others, like Bracco, go through the motions. "I was getting my kid to school and everything -- the house was in good shape. But I was not," she says.

Clinical depression isn't a mood. It's an illness that makes it impossible for a person to experience normal feelings. One in 20 Americans suffers depression each year. One in every 4 to 5 women and 1 in every 8 to 10 men develop depression in their lifetime.

In Bracco's case, what disappeared down the rabbit hole wasn't her life. It was her ability to live her life. "I felt very isolated and very lonely," she says. "I didn't get any joy out of life. I just did things. I felt I had this hump, and that was going to be my life."

Physician, Heal Thyself

Bracco desperately wanted change. She confided in a friend, who recommended that she see a therapist. But Bracco resisted. She thought she should be able to control her own feelings. And she worried incorrectly that antidepressants would dull her emotions, making it impossible to do her job.

Finally, she called her friend and got the name of a therapist. Making that first visit was the hardest step.

"Yes, it was very scary. But it was the moment I took charge," Bracco says. "Instead of letting all my problems -- my being miserable, my being unhappy -- lead my life, I realized then I was finally able to let my dreams lead my life."

The doctor gave the TV psychiatrist plenty of time to talk about her symptoms. Despite some initial reluctance, Bracco did agree to try an antidepressant.

In her therapy, Bracco got to the heart of her darkness and eventually, she says, she became more herself. "I felt a huge difference in my everyday life. Getting treatment put me on the road to recovery-to finding myself and being myself," she says.

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