Welcome to PAD. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, your donations are fully tax deductible.

Our Son’s Story

How could a bright-eyed, happy, intelligent, intellectually curious, insightful child blessed with good health, with no substance abuse problems, get to a point where he was 30 and decided to take his own life.

Could Dominic Have Been Saved

While this is a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer, it is one that needs to be considered by those left behind after the traumatic loss of a loved one to suicide. We approach this question with some degrees of trepidation.  An affirmative answer – that, yes, he could have been saved- leaves us open to regrets and recriminations that we did not do all that could have to help our son. A negative leaves us with a sense of hopelessness. Nevertheless, the asking is a useful exercise. We think that Dominic could have been saved if we had only known then what we know now. Our hope and prayer is that you will arm yourself with the information PAD is offering so that you will never have to ask the question of yourself.

The statements below have been compiled in retrospect and are presented in chronological order. We have tied Dominic’s telling statements to some of the classic tell-tale signs that an adolescent may be at risk of depression.

AT AGE 13 DOMINIC SAID: “I’ve stopped participating in class because my classmates roll their eyes whenever I respond to a teacher’s question. They snicker every time I ask a question. At first this made me mad, but now it just makes me sad. I’m sad all the time.”

SIGN:  Feelings of isolation from classmates, friends and peers. As depression worsens these feelings of being ostracized and alone will include members of the immediate family. The sense of being different and excluded is oftentimes not real but imagined. Adolescents who are very sensitive and/or self-critical are more prone to thoughts of exclusion. The isolation naturally leads to a profound sadness that – if allowed to continue over a prolonged period of time – becomes the norm rather than an exception to healthy feelings of happiness and well-being.

Students who attend PAD presentations learn that if they are experiencing feelings of aloneness and are sad most of the time – they are not alone at all! Many of their peers and classmates are experiencing the same feelings. Students are encouraged to share their feelings with their parents, guardians or a trusted adult. The PAD presentation also gives students some concrete steps they can take to combat the feelings of sadness, and the PAD brochure that they are encouraged to share with their parents also provides information to share with a health care professional. Simple changes can be made to correct imbalances in vitamins and minerals that can make a big difference in feelings and outlook.

PAD also has presentations for parents and PTA meetings that go into more detail about how to get a health care professional involved in brain disease and mental health issues.

If we had an organization like PAD to provide us with the helpful information we have assembled on our own, we feel certain that Dominic would have experienced a much better outcome.

AT AGE 16 DOMINIC SAID: “The worst mistake that I ever made was dropping karate so that I could take the lead role in the school play. The only time I felt completely normal was when I was in karate class.”

SIGN:  Mood and disposition dissonance. Adolescents who are depressed often experience transitory periods of manic euphoria. These mood swings are frequently unpredictable and do not coincide with events or circumstances that could be interpreted as associative or as mood-swing triggers.

PAD has learned that what Dominic was describing is a very common phenomenon. What he – and we – didn’t understand at the time is that exercise and physical exertion of any kind is responsible for triggering the secretion of endorphins and other mediating hormones that serve to keep the body and mind in a steady state relative to mood, disposition and outlook on life. The symptoms of depression act as if they are attached to a boomerang launched from an unseen hand. They return again and again with little or no warning, and can strike at the most inopportune times.

If we had had the opportunity to attend a PTA presentation to parents, we would have learned how to help our son mediate out of control hormones, with the help of a psychologist.

AT AGE 18 DOMINIC SAID:  “Everyone went to the University of Maryland football game – except me. My friends asked me to go along, but I just couldn’t go. I spent the entire day all alone in my room. I watched the fireworks after the game through my bedroom window.”

SIGN:  People suffering from depression often shy away from crowds and social events – a condition known as agoraphobia. This is in keeping with the nonstop irrational thoughts that everyone is watching them and talking about them. This social anxiety is recognized in the literature and in the clinical setting as a very treatable condition. Counseling and medications are extremely effective in treating social anxiety. Had we been able to play a more integral role in our son’s care, we would have made sure that his social anxiety was appropriately addressed.

If Dominic had had the opportunity to attend a PAD presentation he would have learned about social anxiety and understood that treatment is readily available for this very common condition. PAD’s presentation discusses these treatments and how therapies are most effective if the social anxiety is diagnosed early and administered in the teen years.

AT AGE 23 DOMINIC SAID:  “I just can’t bring myself to turn in my qualifying exam (for his Ph.D.) I work and work at it night after night and I just can’t seem to get it right. No matter how many times I modify my answers –they just aren’t right.”

SIGN:  Medical science has identified a set of personality traits which – while predictive but not diagnostic of the potential to develop a depression disorder – serve to provide clinicians with a model to which they may be able to match the results of more quantitative measures. Prominent among these personality traits is the need to strive for perfection. So deep-seated is this drive that it becomes almost a moral imperative. Anything less than perfection is perceived by the depressed person as an abject failure. An “A-” on a test is exactly the same as an “F,” for their perception is that they have not only failed academically – but have disgraced themselves and their family. In their mind, they have branded themselves as unworthy and undeserving human beings.

If PAD had been available as resource for Dominic – and for us as his parents – we would have been aware that our son’s constant quest for perfection, and his sense of profound failure at anything less, was a warning sign. We would have been on the lookout for the other behaviors that placed him in a high-risk category for becoming clinically depressed. The PAD presentation brings to the students’ attention the personality trait indicators, and encourages them to be on the lookout for the warning signs in themselves and in their friends.

AT AGE 25:  Dominic finally recognized that he needed professional help. The first psychiatrist prescribed the drug Effexor. He was told that he would probably be on the drug for an extended period of time, if not for the rest of his life.

Here is some information taken directly from Pfizer’s webpage for antidepressant medication: “EFFEXOR XR® (venlafaxine HCl) Extended-Release Capsules are indicated for the treatment, in adults, of Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Panic Disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia (the fear of crowds and public places). Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, teens, and young adults. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. EFFEXOR XR is not approved for use in children and teens.” (Here is a link to the Effexor webpage so that you can read about the side effects and contraindications for prescribing the drug: http://www.effexorxr.com/side-effects ).

When Dominic was not getting any better, he went to see another psychiatrist. The second psychiatrist continued to prescribe Effexor even though the drug was only minimally effective in treating Dominic’s depression.

PAD has learned that oftentimes Effexor –and other antidepressant medications – are only effective in a certain percentage of the patient population. It is important for physicians to closely monitor their patients not only for effectiveness of the medications they have prescribed but for blood levels of the drug to ensure that therapeutic levels are reached and maintained. Effexor was not an effective treatment for our son’s depression. He never attained remission from his brain disease. Did Dominic report to his psychiatrist that he was feeling better – even though he was not?  Did our son tell the doctor that his prescribed treatment was working well – so as not to disappoint him?  We will never know. Patient confidentiality laws prevent parents from gaining access to that information for their adult children. Until some accommodation in the law is made for those patients for whom having an advocate present during meetings with their healthcare professionals, parents will not be able to participate in meaningful ways in their children’s care.

AT AGE 28:  After years of struggling to get better with very limited positive results, Dominic agreed to partial hospitalization. A combination of antidepressant drugs, group and private counseling – including CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – helped only marginally.

Unfortunately, hospitalization may have come too late:

  • Dominic was among the percentage of patients for whom Effexor was ineffective.
  • Dominic’s serum cortisol levels were probably so high that internal stress simply overpowered his intellect.
  • Dominic’s vitamin levels were not monitored. When his Vitamin D level was finally checked when he was 30, it was only 7. The normal is 40-80ng/ml per Vitamin D counsel.
  • Our son’s hormonal levels were so imbalanced that rational thought was impossible.

AT AGE 17-29 DOMINIC SAID:  “I think that I am losing my mind. I just can’t seem to think clearly. I know that people are talking about me all the time. I am sure that my teachers and classmates hate me.”  These feelings persisted during his late teens and became worse into his late twenties.

SIGN:  As uncontrolled depression worsens it becomes difficult for the person to distinguish between their perceptions of reality and real world experiences. Imaginings replace reality with a cruel distortion of facts, and those distortions can take over thoughts and ultimately a person’s reactions to people and events. Responses become inappropriate and no amount of rational discussion or reasoning will alter the person’s determination that erroneous perception is absolute reality. As irrational thoughts take more and more time and mental effort, rational thought and intellect become cloudy and difficult. Concentrating for extended periods of time becomes difficult and sustaining the mental rigor to solve complex and theoretical problems nearly impossible.

Through our research in developing the PAD curriculum we have learned that these kinds of thoughts are classic indicators of depression that is completely out of control. I, and his father, would spend hours and hours assuring Dominic that people were not talking about him and that he was well liked. These feelings continued even into Dominic’s post-graduate work. He was convinced that he was disliked by his fellow PhD classmates and his professors. His entire Doctorate class and his professors attended Dominic’s funeral and all of them told us how much they admired and respected Dominic’s intellect and kind heart. His professor told us what a wonderful gift Dominic had for science and that he would have done well in the field.

PAD has learned that out-of-control Cortisol levels are often the cause for the irrational thoughts Dominic was experiencing. Dominic’s blood Cortisol levels might have been so high that he was possibly nearly toxic. The normal range is 6 – 23 micrograms per deciliter. If we had known what we know now we would have taken immediate steps to address this clinical emergency. Unfortunately, Dominic was over 18 years old and the results of his chemistry assay were considered to be private medical information and his physician could not share this information with us – his parents. PAD will tackle this important legal issue in the very near future. Something must be done to permit the sharing of medical information at the point when patients are unable to make sound medical judgments on their own.

AT AGE 29 DOMINIC SAID TO US:

“I want to relive my teens and twenties. I want those lost years back. I want to start over.” We could not grant his wish.​ “It is too late.” No matter how hard we tried we could not convince him to keep on fighting and to keep hope alive. He had come to the end and he had no more fight left in him. “Why didn’t you save me?”

This broke our hearts. He could not see – or remember – how hard we had tried to help him.

AT AGE 30 Dominic turned thirty on October 29th 2012, he said, “Do I have to threaten to kill myself to get some treatment” Dominic went through six weeks of TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation). He did not miss a day of his treatment, unfortunately, he was part of the small percentage of patients who did not benefit from the treatment.

By now Dominic had slowly weaned himself from Effexor. In January of 2013 the psychiatrist prescribed Lithium, within a day or two he felt much better. Unfortunately Dominic’s relief was temporary. His psychiatrist told Dominic the only option left was antipsychotic drugs to stabilize his situation.

PAD has learned from the Mayo Clinic website that if anti-depressant treatment does not seem to be working the doctor may recommend a blood test called cytochrome P450 to check for specific genes that affect how the body processes antidepressants. Our beloved son Dominic might have benefitted from this test.

On March 25th, 2013 – Our son took his own life.

PAD understands that early intervention is the key to successfully treating depression. PAD is committed to bringing young adult depression out of the shadows and into the light of discussion and discovery.

The Birth of PAD

The loss of a loved one is always difficult. When a parent loses a child, the pain is simply indescribable. How could an exuberantly happy, giggly child; a wide-eyed, curious, well liked adolescent; an intelligent, insightful, articulate young adult at the very threshold of a success take his own life. What drove him to such despair and hopelessness?  We were a happy family. We laughed a lot. We were good parents, and we provided our son with opportunities to enrich his mind, to expand his horizons and to make the world his own. Still, we were unable to save him.

Our tragic loss inspired us to establish Parents Against Depression, Inc., We became determined that Dominic’s death would have meaning and significance beyond the four walls of our home and our own broken hearts. After our son’s death, we were left with an infinite number of nagging questions for which there seemed to be no answers. We came to understand that there were millions of other parents searching for answers to the same questions. We knew that we had to do something to help them – and to help us set our minds and hearts to rest. Through our PAD research we discovered that there were answers to our questions, but they were hidden in medical journals, academic literature and in university laboratories around the world. PAD was launched to gather, collate, organize and present information about the physiological, psychological, psychosocial and behavioral factors that may describe – when presented in aggregate – the profile of one who may be at risk for depression or other brain diseases. Information is empowerment. Armed with the information that PAD has gathered, it is our hope that others may be able to recognize when a loved one is in danger of wandering down a very dark path, and prevent the horror that we will have to endure for the rest of our lives.

The “Dominics” of the world

Near the end of one of our hours-long discussions, Dominic asked me, “Do you know anyone like me?” I didn’t know how to answer him. Truth be told, I didn’t think I did know anyone like him. You may think the same thing too, but I have subsequently learned that there are millions of Dominics struggling to cope with depression. Consider this:

*There are approximately three hundred and fifty million (350,000,000) people world-wide fighting the brain disease known as depression. One million (1,000,000) will take their own lives every year. *There are 15 million Dominics in the United States. Every year for the past ten years, thirty thousand (30,000) of them have taken their own lives. *Annually, the United States spends approximately half a trillion dollars ($500,000,000.00) on mental health issues directly related to depression.

In the final analysis, no amount of money or research will save our sons and daughters. If information and findings are not shared with the public, parents, teens and young adults so that brain disease is recognized and depression discussed openly and honestly so that treatment can take place in a timely and effective manner – nothing will change. We, just like tens of thousands of other loving parents, relied upon professionals to guide our adult son through the depression treatment maze. We trusted the judgment of counselors and relied upon psychologists and psychiatrists to counsel him appropriately and to treat him with the latest modalities of care. We know now that this trust was not necessarily misplaced, but verifying that our child was receiving the kind of care that he deserved – was a responsibility that we would take much more seriously today. We have learned that professionals do not always know all that there is to know – and some are not even armed with the most current information. We have learned that treating depression episodically rather than addressing the disease in a more holistic way is a mistake that many clinicians routinely make. We have learned that privacy laws which shut out parents from.

Parents Against Depression, Inc. is a grassroots effort to help arm parents with the information they need to begin addressing some of the issues described above. As our presentations to students and parents grow beyond the borders of Maryland, and our website expands to include more research findings and journal articles, interactive discussions with care providers and postings from patients and parents, it is our hope to reach those searching for answers – and for augmentation strategies for conventional modalities of care – from coast to coast.

Help Support PAD

PAD needs your financial support to help the organization grow and prosper. The more young adults – and parents of teens and young adults – we are able to reach, the more lives we can save. If you are the parent of a child suffering with depression, please help us. Get in touch with us, or share your story and provide us with insight or information you have found in your own search for answers. Or, click on the “Donate Now” and give generously to the cause. It is your cause. Our cause. Together we can find a way.

+ Our Sons Story

How could a bright-eyed, happy, intelligent, intellectually curious, insightful child blessed with good health, with no substance abuse problems, get to a point where he was 30 and decided to take his own life.

+ Could Dominic Have Been Saved

Could Dominic Have Been Saved

While this is a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer, it is one that needs to be considered by those left behind after the traumatic loss of a loved one to suicide. We approach this question with some degrees of trepidation.  An affirmative answer – that, yes, he could have been saved- leaves us open to regrets and recriminations that we did not do all that could have to help our son. A negative leaves us with a sense of hopelessness. Nevertheless, the asking is a useful exercise. We think that Dominic could have been saved if we had only known then what we know now. Our hope and prayer is that you will arm yourself with the information PAD is offering so that you will never have to ask the question of yourself.

The statements below have been compiled in retrospect and are presented in chronological order. We have tied Dominic’s telling statements to some of the classic tell-tale signs that an adolescent may be at risk of depression.

AT AGE 13 DOMINIC SAID: “I’ve stopped participating in class because my classmates roll their eyes whenever I respond to a teacher’s question. They snicker every time I ask a question. At first this made me mad, but now it just makes me sad. I’m sad all the time.”

SIGN:  Feelings of isolation from classmates, friends and peers. As depression worsens these feelings of being ostracized and alone will include members of the immediate family. The sense of being different and excluded is oftentimes not real but imagined. Adolescents who are very sensitive and/or self-critical are more prone to thoughts of exclusion. The isolation naturally leads to a profound sadness that – if allowed to continue over a prolonged period of time – becomes the norm rather than an exception to healthy feelings of happiness and well-being.

Students who attend PAD presentations learn that if they are experiencing feelings of aloneness and are sad most of the time – they are not alone at all! Many of their peers and classmates are experiencing the same feelings. Students are encouraged to share their feelings with their parents, guardians or a trusted adult. The PAD presentation also gives students some concrete steps they can take to combat the feelings of sadness, and the PAD brochure that they are encouraged to share with their parents also provides information to share with a health care professional. Simple changes can be made to correct imbalances in vitamins and minerals that can make a big difference in feelings and outlook.

PAD also has presentations for parents and PTA meetings that go into more detail about how to get a health care professional involved in brain disease and mental health issues.

If we had an organization like PAD to provide us with the helpful information we have assembled on our own, we feel certain that Dominic would have experienced a much better outcome.

AT AGE 16 DOMINIC SAID: “The worst mistake that I ever made was dropping karate so that I could take the lead role in the school play. The only time I felt completely normal was when I was in karate class.”

SIGN:  Mood and disposition dissonance. Adolescents who are depressed often experience transitory periods of manic euphoria. These mood swings are frequently unpredictable and do not coincide with events or circumstances that could be interpreted as associative or as mood-swing triggers.

PAD has learned that what Dominic was describing is a very common phenomenon. What he – and we – didn’t understand at the time is that exercise and physical exertion of any kind is responsible for triggering the secretion of endorphins and other mediating hormones that serve to keep the body and mind in a steady state relative to mood, disposition and outlook on life. The symptoms of depression act as if they are attached to a boomerang launched from an unseen hand. They return again and again with little or no warning, and can strike at the most inopportune times.

If we had had the opportunity to attend a PTA presentation to parents, we would have learned how to help our son mediate out of control hormones, with the help of a psychologist.

AT AGE 18 DOMINIC SAID:  “Everyone went to the University of Maryland football game – except me. My friends asked me to go along, but I just couldn’t go. I spent the entire day all alone in my room. I watched the fireworks after the game through my bedroom window.”

SIGN:  People suffering from depression often shy away from crowds and social events – a condition known as agoraphobia. This is in keeping with the nonstop irrational thoughts that everyone is watching them and talking about them. This social anxiety is recognized in the literature and in the clinical setting as a very treatable condition. Counseling and medications are extremely effective in treating social anxiety. Had we been able to play a more integral role in our son’s care, we would have made sure that his social anxiety was appropriately addressed.

If Dominic had had the opportunity to attend a PAD presentation he would have learned about social anxiety and understood that treatment is readily available for this very common condition. PAD’s presentation discusses these treatments and how therapies are most effective if the social anxiety is diagnosed early and administered in the teen years.

AT AGE 23 DOMINIC SAID:  “I just can’t bring myself to turn in my qualifying exam (for his Ph.D.) I work and work at it night after night and I just can’t seem to get it right. No matter how many times I modify my answers –they just aren’t right.”

SIGN:  Medical science has identified a set of personality traits which – while predictive but not diagnostic of the potential to develop a depression disorder – serve to provide clinicians with a model to which they may be able to match the results of more quantitative measures. Prominent among these personality traits is the need to strive for perfection. So deep-seated is this drive that it becomes almost a moral imperative. Anything less than perfection is perceived by the depressed person as an abject failure. An “A-” on a test is exactly the same as an “F,” for their perception is that they have not only failed academically – but have disgraced themselves and their family. In their mind, they have branded themselves as unworthy and undeserving human beings.

If PAD had been available as resource for Dominic – and for us as his parents – we would have been aware that our son’s constant quest for perfection, and his sense of profound failure at anything less, was a warning sign. We would have been on the lookout for the other behaviors that placed him in a high-risk category for becoming clinically depressed. The PAD presentation brings to the students’ attention the personality trait indicators, and encourages them to be on the lookout for the warning signs in themselves and in their friends.

AT AGE 25:  Dominic finally recognized that he needed professional help. The first psychiatrist prescribed the drug Effexor. He was told that he would probably be on the drug for an extended period of time, if not for the rest of his life.

Here is some information taken directly from Pfizer’s webpage for antidepressant medication: “EFFEXOR XR® (venlafaxine HCl) Extended-Release Capsules are indicated for the treatment, in adults, of Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), and Panic Disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia (the fear of crowds and public places). Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, teens, and young adults. Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide. Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. EFFEXOR XR is not approved for use in children and teens.” (Here is a link to the Effexor webpage so that you can read about the side effects and contraindications for prescribing the drug: http://www.effexorxr.com/side-effects ).

When Dominic was not getting any better, he went to see another psychiatrist. The second psychiatrist continued to prescribe Effexor even though the drug was only minimally effective in treating Dominic’s depression.

PAD has learned that oftentimes Effexor –and other antidepressant medications – are only effective in a certain percentage of the patient population. It is important for physicians to closely monitor their patients not only for effectiveness of the medications they have prescribed but for blood levels of the drug to ensure that therapeutic levels are reached and maintained. Effexor was not an effective treatment for our son’s depression. He never attained remission from his brain disease. Did Dominic report to his psychiatrist that he was feeling better – even though he was not?  Did our son tell the doctor that his prescribed treatment was working well – so as not to disappoint him?  We will never know. Patient confidentiality laws prevent parents from gaining access to that information for their adult children. Until some accommodation in the law is made for those patients for whom having an advocate present during meetings with their healthcare professionals, parents will not be able to participate in meaningful ways in their children’s care.

AT AGE 28:  After years of struggling to get better with very limited positive results, Dominic agreed to partial hospitalization. A combination of antidepressant drugs, group and private counseling – including CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) – helped only marginally.

Unfortunately, hospitalization may have come too late:

  • Dominic was among the percentage of patients for whom Effexor was ineffective.
  • Dominic’s serum cortisol levels were probably so high that internal stress simply overpowered his intellect.
  • Dominic’s vitamin levels were not monitored. When his Vitamin D level was finally checked when he was 30, it was only 7. The normal is 40-80ng/ml per Vitamin D counsel.
  • Our son’s hormonal levels were so imbalanced that rational thought was impossible.

AT AGE 17-29 DOMINIC SAID:  “I think that I am losing my mind. I just can’t seem to think clearly. I know that people are talking about me all the time. I am sure that my teachers and classmates hate me.”  These feelings persisted during his late teens and became worse into his late twenties.

SIGN:  As uncontrolled depression worsens it becomes difficult for the person to distinguish between their perceptions of reality and real world experiences. Imaginings replace reality with a cruel distortion of facts, and those distortions can take over thoughts and ultimately a person’s reactions to people and events. Responses become inappropriate and no amount of rational discussion or reasoning will alter the person’s determination that erroneous perception is absolute reality. As irrational thoughts take more and more time and mental effort, rational thought and intellect become cloudy and difficult. Concentrating for extended periods of time becomes difficult and sustaining the mental rigor to solve complex and theoretical problems nearly impossible.

Through our research in developing the PAD curriculum we have learned that these kinds of thoughts are classic indicators of depression that is completely out of control. I, and his father, would spend hours and hours assuring Dominic that people were not talking about him and that he was well liked. These feelings continued even into Dominic’s post-graduate work. He was convinced that he was disliked by his fellow PhD classmates and his professors. His entire Doctorate class and his professors attended Dominic’s funeral and all of them told us how much they admired and respected Dominic’s intellect and kind heart. His professor told us what a wonderful gift Dominic had for science and that he would have done well in the field.

PAD has learned that out-of-control Cortisol levels are often the cause for the irrational thoughts Dominic was experiencing. Dominic’s blood Cortisol levels might have been so high that he was possibly nearly toxic. The normal range is 6 – 23 micrograms per deciliter. If we had known what we know now we would have taken immediate steps to address this clinical emergency. Unfortunately, Dominic was over 18 years old and the results of his chemistry assay were considered to be private medical information and his physician could not share this information with us – his parents. PAD will tackle this important legal issue in the very near future. Something must be done to permit the sharing of medical information at the point when patients are unable to make sound medical judgments on their own.

AT AGE 29 DOMINIC SAID TO US:

“I want to relive my teens and twenties. I want those lost years back. I want to start over.” We could not grant his wish.​ “It is too late.” No matter how hard we tried we could not convince him to keep on fighting and to keep hope alive. He had come to the end and he had no more fight left in him. “Why didn’t you save me?”

This broke our hearts. He could not see – or remember – how hard we had tried to help him.

AT AGE 30 Dominic turned thirty on October 29th 2012, he said, “Do I have to threaten to kill myself to get some treatment” Dominic went through six weeks of TMS (Transcranial magnetic stimulation). He did not miss a day of his treatment, unfortunately, he was part of the small percentage of patients who did not benefit from the treatment.

By now Dominic had slowly weaned himself from Effexor. In January of 2013 the psychiatrist prescribed Lithium, within a day or two he felt much better. Unfortunately Dominic’s relief was temporary. His psychiatrist told Dominic the only option left was antipsychotic drugs to stabilize his situation.

PAD has learned from the Mayo Clinic website that if anti-depressant treatment does not seem to be working the doctor may recommend a blood test called cytochrome P450 to check for specific genes that affect how the body processes antidepressants. Our beloved son Dominic might have benefitted from this test.

On March 25th, 2013 – Our son took his own life.

PAD understands that early intervention is the key to successfully treating depression. PAD is committed to bringing young adult depression out of the shadows and into the light of discussion and discovery.

+ Birth of PAD
The Birth of PAD

The loss of a loved one is always difficult. When a parent loses a child, the pain is simply indescribable. How could an exuberantly happy, giggly child; a wide-eyed, curious, well liked adolescent; an intelligent, insightful, articulate young adult at the very threshold of a success take his own life. What drove him to such despair and hopelessness?  We were a happy family. We laughed a lot. We were good parents, and we provided our son with opportunities to enrich his mind, to expand his horizons and to make the world his own. Still, we were unable to save him.

Our tragic loss inspired us to establish Parents Against Depression, Inc., We became determined that Dominic’s death would have meaning and significance beyond the four walls of our home and our own broken hearts. After our son’s death, we were left with an infinite number of nagging questions for which there seemed to be no answers. We came to understand that there were millions of other parents searching for answers to the same questions. We knew that we had to do something to help them – and to help us set our minds and hearts to rest. Through our PAD research we discovered that there were answers to our questions, but they were hidden in medical journals, academic literature and in university laboratories around the world. PAD was launched to gather, collate, organize and present information about the physiological, psychological, psychosocial and behavioral factors that may describe – when presented in aggregate – the profile of one who may be at risk for depression or other brain diseases. Information is empowerment. Armed with the information that PAD has gathered, it is our hope that others may be able to recognize when a loved one is in danger of wandering down a very dark path, and prevent the horror that we will have to endure for the rest of our lives.

The “Dominics” of the world

Near the end of one of our hours-long discussions, Dominic asked me, “Do you know anyone like me?” I didn’t know how to answer him. Truth be told, I didn’t think I did know anyone like him. You may think the same thing too, but I have subsequently learned that there are millions of Dominics struggling to cope with depression. Consider this:

*There are approximately three hundred and fifty million (350,000,000) people world-wide fighting the brain disease known as depression. One million (1,000,000) will take their own lives every year. *There are 15 million Dominics in the United States. Every year for the past ten years, thirty thousand (30,000) of them have taken their own lives. *Annually, the United States spends approximately half a trillion dollars ($500,000,000.00) on mental health issues directly related to depression.

In the final analysis, no amount of money or research will save our sons and daughters. If information and findings are not shared with the public, parents, teens and young adults so that brain disease is recognized and depression discussed openly and honestly so that treatment can take place in a timely and effective manner – nothing will change. We, just like tens of thousands of other loving parents, relied upon professionals to guide our adult son through the depression treatment maze. We trusted the judgment of counselors and relied upon psychologists and psychiatrists to counsel him appropriately and to treat him with the latest modalities of care. We know now that this trust was not necessarily misplaced, but verifying that our child was receiving the kind of care that he deserved – was a responsibility that we would take much more seriously today. We have learned that professionals do not always know all that there is to know – and some are not even armed with the most current information. We have learned that treating depression episodically rather than addressing the disease in a more holistic way is a mistake that many clinicians routinely make. We have learned that privacy laws which shut out parents from.

Parents Against Depression, Inc. is a grassroots effort to help arm parents with the information they need to begin addressing some of the issues described above. As our presentations to students and parents grow beyond the borders of Maryland, and our website expands to include more research findings and journal articles, interactive discussions with care providers and postings from patients and parents, it is our hope to reach those searching for answers – and for augmentation strategies for conventional modalities of care – from coast to coast.

Help Support PAD

PAD needs your financial support to help the organization grow and prosper. The more young adults – and parents of teens and young adults – we are able to reach, the more lives we can save. If you are the parent of a child suffering with depression, please help us. Get in touch with us, or share your story and provide us with insight or information you have found in your own search for answers. Or, click on the “Donate Now” and give generously to the cause. It is your cause. Our cause. Together we can find a way.