Dana's Story

My experience with mental health research is what I would call expansive.  During my hospitalization for symptoms of mental illness I agreed to participate in a several mental health research studies, all in attempt to reduce  the symptoms which included uncontrollable mood swings, fast and illogical thoughts, paranoid delusions and hallucinations.  I was very willing to participate as I had a great desire to determine my proper diagnosis and the best treatments.

I was hospitalized in Detroit, Michigan from September 2002 through December 2002, at which time a team of Wayne State University mental health professionals performed several research studies with the hope of providing me with a better standard of care. 

As an eager participant I willfully provided daily answers to a study named the Hamilton Rating Scale (HAM-D) for Depression. This study consisted of a multiple choice questionnaire that clinicians utilized to rate the severity of my major depression. The questionnaire rated the severity of symptoms observed in depression such as low mood, insomnia, agitation, anxiety and weight loss or gain. 

Additionally, I agreed to the performance of MRI Scans which is frequently used to evaluate the internal structures of the brain.  Brain MRI’s are not only used to discover tumors, but also are now increasingly used to remove any notion that a physical medical condition is contributing to a persons mental health.  SInce my MRI did not indicate a physical medical condition I participated in a Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders (SCID-I).

The SCID-I was a module used for coding psychotic episodes and/or experiences that haven been present at any point in a persons lifetime. The results from each of these research studies were what led to my proper diagnosis of Schizo-Affective Disorder.

I am tremendously grateful for understanding the value in participating in those mental health research studies. Without them, I believe that a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment would not have come about so soon. 

I am living a very fulfilling life today. Since receiving appropriate treatment for my proper diagnosis I have attained a Master of Arts in Social Justice and am currently working on my PhD. in Human Services with a Specialization in Social Policy Analysis and Planning. I am a happy wife and mother of a 16 year old son and work full-time with Gateway Community Health, a managed care provider of mental health services in Detroit, Michigan as Prevention, Education & Outreach Specialist.

I am a part of WeSearchTogether because I personally know and understand how one can benefit from mental health research and believe it is important that we, who have been there, encourage others to be open to the possibilities associated with mental health research.  Fortunately, we live in a time where there are review boards that assure the safety of mental health research, which allows each of us to directly benefit from involvement.  Therefore, from one participant to potential others “We need to search together.”