There are plenty of days when Eliza can’t manage to get herself out of the house. On others, she can’t even get out of bed. And in between, she often can’t sleep, can’t concentrate and can’t remember things. She definitely can’t hold down a job. At least not right now.
Eliza, who asked that I not disclose her last name, successfully battled depression for most of her life. She persevered through college and graduate school and worked steadily for more than a decade as a pharmacist. Then, about two years ago, she suffered from an unusually debilitating stretch in which she didn’t respond to antidepressants, and her insurance company refused to pay for experimental treatments that her doctors recommended. Now in her 40s, she has become one of the more than 1.4 million Americans on the federal disability rolls for mood disorders. She also receives Medicaid, food stamps and fuel assistance. “I never wanted a handout,” Eliza told me last month, adding that she has held on to her pharmacy license in the hope that her condition may yet improve. “I would give anything to get out of this and go back to where I was before.” Read more