Who is Dr. Phelps?

In response to a very brave disclosure by a fellow physician (JAMA 2004), here is my own, regarding my own mental health conditions.

Though I do not have bipolar disorder myself, I might warrant the term “hyperthymic,” in some people’s view anyway.  I can go without sleep and not miss it too much, thus accounting for the hours during which most of this website was written; and I’m always looking for “up” experiences, be it in a kayak or conversation.

I have had one phase of pretty severe depression. During my psychiatry residency, my second year of training (all inpatient work, regarded by nearly all us residents as the hardest part) was pretty rough. When three different colleagues said I ought to consider taking an antidepressant medication, I finally started taking fluoxetine/Prozac (not self-prescribed). In less than a week I recovered my sense of humor and perspective and felt like my old self. I stopped it at about 3 months and have had no recurrence since.

However, I’ve had 4 courses of psychotherapy, only two of which might be regarded as part of my training. The first was to help figure out why I hated medical training so much (I mean really hated it, out of proportion to any basis at the time, though there are some good reasons to hate it).  That therapy led to my decision to go into psychiatry. The second and third were part of my training, but were extremely useful personally, including especially a group therapy/training with residency colleagues. A fourth was to help deal with some stresses during my early years in practice, also extremely helpful. I’m sure all this “therapy” has helped me avoid having to go back on fluoxetine/Prozac or something like it again.

Jim Phelps