Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm a 40 year old Brazilian. Ten years ago I would say I was a success story. I lost both, my mom and dad, when I was only one year old. Despite this, I managed to get a Ph.D. in economics in 2000 at a university in Illinois. I am now a professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil.
Since 2004 I have developed strong OCD symptoms of disturbing images and my life is kind of currently falling apart, because OCD and depression are ruining my work, social and personal life.
I tried several drugs and the collateral effects are worse than my psychological illnesses. I do not know what to do. I am profoundly sad because I am a truly good and intelligent person.
I have worked so hard to get this far and I cannot endure such suffering and uncertainty about my future anymore. I am alone and do not have anyone to count on.
I am very grateful for your psychological guidance.
First, let me say that mental illness does not distinguish between brilliantly intelligent individuals and those that are not so gifted. With your accomplishments, I have no doubt that you are smart, and you are indeed a success story.
Depression often accompanies OCD as a result of the distress caused by the obsessions and compulsions. Your doctor should be aware of your depression as well as the OCD and there are many meds and combos that you can try.
Your psychiatrist needs to know exactly what you told me, Ana. If one medication doesn't work, tell him so something else can be tried. When treating depression or OCD, it's not uncommon for a plethora of medications to be tried before the right one is found.
Other thoughts would be to see your family doctor to have a full battery of labs and have your hormones checked. You could be experiencing an early menopause or there could be something physical that is going on.
Also, start seeing a therapist. There are good therapy treatments to help with OCD and depression and there could be things going on in your life that are causing increased stress, perhaps on a subconscious level.
Please know that to have these problems does not make you a bad person. It's like saying someone with cancer isn't good or intelligent! Never give up hope, Ana. The answer is there; work closely with your doctor and you'll find the relief you need.
I wish you nothing but the best.