Q&A With My Psychiatrist

I have a really great psychiatrist, Dr. Neysa Johnson in Southlake, and she was gracious enough to answer some questions for me about depression and treatment plans so I could share with you. 

If you have depression, will you always have depression?
You will not always feel depressed, but depression, unfortunately, is a recurring illness.  If you have an episode of depression, you have about a 50% chance of it coming back.

What kinds of things do you recommend as part of a treatment plan, i.e. meds, therapy, etc?
A treatment plan should be well rounded, and usually includes both medications and therapy, as well as self-care like good nutrition, exercise, and sleep.

After starting a treatment plan, how long does it take to feel better?
It partly depends on the treatment, but for most antidepressants that are used to treat depression or anxiety, it can take up to 6-8 weeks to feel the full benefit of treatment, but a lot of people start feeling better in 2-3 weeks.

How will I know if I’m getting better?
I tell people that they will begin to feel more like themselves.  Treatment doesn’t change your personality or who you are, but it gets you back to your baseline.  You may not notice things at first, sometimes others notice changes before you do.

What kind of lifestyle changes will help my depression/diagnosis?
Managing sleep, nutrition and exercise can definitely affect your depression.

What’s the best thing to do in a crisis?
Self-care is really important.  Keeping a regular sleep schedule and getting enough sleep and eating nutritional meals on a regular basis are very important.  Exercise is really vital to stress relief, and finding a way to exercise even if you are in ‘shelter in place’ is essential. Emotionally, sharing your feelings and fears with others is very helpful to knowing you are not alone in how you might be feeling.  Reaching out for treatment may be needed in a crisis; and if you already have a mental health condition, keeping in touch with your treatment providers can help a lot.

How many patients do you see?
I see up to 13 patients a day for follow ups, less than that if I am seeing a new patient.

How long have you been practicing?
I have been in practice for 13 years, private practice for 10 years.

What are your credentials?
I have my M.D. from UTMB Galveston, and I did my residency at UT Southwestern in Dallas in Psychiatry.  I am board-certified in Psychiatry.

If you could tell your patients anything what would it be?
To be open with me about how they are feeling and if they are having any side effects from treatment so we can decide if we need to make changes.

I think the question that resonates most with me is, “If you have depression, will you always have it?” I (and so many others) work hard daily to stave off depression and it’s tough to see that I’ll probably always have it – and that it might come back. Right now, my depression isn’t terrible; I’m pretty high functioning, but it seriously exhausts me going through all the daily tasks I have to do in order to make sure I’m ok. Not great, just functioning. Just ok. I think that’s why it’s so important to focus on a treatment plan, stick to a healthy routine and I’m glad Dr. Johnson mentioned sleep, good nutrition and exercise as cornerstones to a treatment plan. 

Also, I’m glad she talked about self care during a crisis. Self care is always important but now that most of us are in isolation, it should be a priority. Honestly, being at home and not able to do much is just fine for me; however, dealing with the kids all day is exhausting, both mentally and physically. I can see how others being at home, away from friends and family would be tough and the urge to reach out might not be there. 

I know it’s hard right now but every storm runs out of rain, right? Take care of yourselves.

For more information on depression and other mental illnesses, please check out the American Psychiatric Association’s website. 

And as always, if you are feeling suicidal, you can call  the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone here.