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Jan 2, 201406:59 AMVan Lines

with Joe Vanden Plas

One executive who conquered the Great Depression

(page 1 of 2)

From the pages of In Business magazine.

About 12 years ago, I spent a very enjoyable summer evening with Scott Braucht and his wife, Mary, at Concerts on the Square. It was a happy occasion, one of those gorgeous summer nights that, when combined with music, helps you realize that civilization actually exists.

At the time, Braucht didn’t appear to have a care in the world. He had (and has) a charming wife, a fine family, and was an executive at a respected accounting firm. Little did I know he was trying to overcome a debilitating experience with depression and bipolarity, which has inspired a new book titled Into the Light: A Middle-Aged Man’s Recovery From Depression (HenschelHAUS Publishing).

Many books have been written about this disease, but as Braucht researched the topic, he could not find any firsthand accounts. Since the happy news of his recovery, even from bipolarity, he has spent the better part of two years writing about the medical and healing process, with a special nod to the medical professionals, family and friends, and Labrador retrievers who aided his recovery.

Despite help from others, Braucht often felt alone during his struggle. Drug therapies provided short-term relief, but it was a challenge to find the right mix, so the disease — caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors — grew progressively worse as he reached middle age. Here he was in his 40s, the age when people’s careers are taking off, and he was, as one friend noted in the book, buried in despair. He needed an intervention that would prompt him to take time off and hit the reset button, and eventually he found the answer in electroconvulsive therapy.

“Bipolarity probably has the reputation of being more difficult to reach than depression, and being diagnosed with them together is even more challenging,” Braucht explained. “I can say that, for some reason that may be unclear, the electroconvulsive therapy has managed to set me free from both diseases.  I can honestly not remember a bipolar [manic] episode since I returned to a state of wellness, and that was 10 years ago. 

“If I look in the window today, and even for the last 10 years, I can rarely identify a time when I have experienced uncontrollable or unusually high mood swings. I credit this remission to the ECT.  I believe it didn’t just make me partially better.  It made me all better.”

Electroconvulsive therapy did the trick, but it’s scary because it induces seizures. Braucht isn’t entirely sure how ECT works, but he offered an explanation as to how it positively affects brain chemistry. “Yes, the process does sound scary, but the procedure is completed before you know it,” he explained. “Limited if any pain is involved at all.  What ECT does do is release a number of dynamic molecules inside the brain, like dopamine and serotin.  ECT brings these molecules to a higher level and this heightens the level of active brain chemistry. 

“This procedure can work at varying levels for others. I am grateful that I had the courage to try it. I encourage those who are afflicted to consider it as well.”

Now the owner of his own capital campaign fundraising business, Braucht cites a couple of takeaways from his experience. The first is to seek out others who suffer, which isn’t easy because of the stigma associated with depression. “I made the mistake of quickly rushing to medical treatment without getting a base comparison of my symptoms with others,” he acknowledged. “This is one of the reasons I wrote this book. I was quite alone in this illness, and never sought out peers who faced the same.”

The second takeaway is that if you need to take medication, be prepared for side effects and for the occasional need to change medications. “The goal is to find the right mix,” Braucht noted. “Be patient. It’s a complex disease.”

(Continued)

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