Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Coping with depression

Published:Tuesday | May 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMDr. Arna J. Brown-Morgan

Jodie is a 21-year-old student who is visiting her family doctor today because her exams will soon begin and she just can't concentrate on her studies. She asks her doctor for vitamins to energise her during the days and which will help her focus during her study time.

Jodie's family doctor has known her for years and is aware that she becomes stressed at exam time. He takes the time to ask her some further relevant questions and discovers that Jodie is not sleeping well and has lost weight recently.

As 'Doc' asks her if she is experiencing any other problems which she'd like to talk about, Jodie bursts into tears! Her doctor gives her time to settle down a bit and quietly asks Jodie to share her other concerns.

He discovers that Jodie is on a scholarship and will lose it if she doesn't perform well during these exams. Jodie also shares the troubling information that her mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will soon have to undergo surgery. Jodie is fearful that her mother may soon die!

Doc listens as Jodie expresses her fears and then takes the time to share with her some information on breast cancer, which suggests that her mom has caught the disease fairly early. He reassures Jodie that her mother is in the hands of good, knowledgeable physicians.
Doc talks with Jodie about her studies and the problems she has been experiencing with one subject in particular. They discuss how Jodie could obtain help with her weak subject through group study and a talk with her lecturer.

Doc then examines Jodie, checking her blood pressure and listening to her heart and lungs. Checking that she doesn't seem anaemic, which could contribute to her poor concentration.


He concludes Jodie's visit with them forging an action plan on how to approach her problems, while sharing with her that she is both anxious and depressed about the events occurring in her life at this time, and that her 'reactive' depression has occurred as a reaction to the events occurring in her life at this time.

They discuss how she should cope with her feeling while she begins making her action plan a reality. They discuss her diet and how she could make her eating habits more structured.

Doc suggests trying to keep regular sleeping hours and discusses how this will help her concentration during the days. He gives her a prescription for iron and vitamins, as well as a mild relaxant for a few days.

Doc asks Jodie to visit again in two weeks' time and invites her to call before then if she experiences any further health issues.

A much calmer and hopeful Jodie leaves her family doctor's office with a small smile on her face!

- Dr Arna J. Brown-Morgan is a family physician. Arna J. Brown-Morgan is a family physician