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“Just take each day as it comes”- Brianna Artz

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

“Just take each day as it comes” @DogScienceWeekly Brianna Artz is an endlessly curious PhD student in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience at George Mason University.🐾


I was a severely depressed shell of a teenager by sophomore year due to reduced serotonergic functioning and life stressors. I lost my hair, slept 18+ hrs/day, and missed so much school my peers thought I’d moved.

I fell off the face of the earth.

I was nothing and each day was my last. I owe my life to overcoming stigma & a tiny white pill: Lexapro. My depression remitted and I was okay without meds, for a while.


Three years ago, with no evident stressor, my body betrayed me. I lost ~40 pounds and developed heart palpitations; I lived in fear of dying. This picture was taken right after restarting treatment, ending this major depressive episode, and finding my passion for canine cognition research.🐕

Dogs have therapeutic benefits to the humans who love them. As silly as this sounds, I am inspired by my dogs’ excitement for new experiences & new smells – I strive towards that zeal for life!

Mental health can be a lifelong, debilitating struggle. I work every day to understand my mental health to avoid relapsing.

I tell myself “You’re fine, you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.”

My first suicidal thought was at age 10 - I still take medication and sometimes seek psychotherapy, even in remission. I struggle with intrusive thoughts: that my work is unimportant and I am not smart enough to impact my field now or in the future.

Instead of internalizing, I take a mindful approach to life and reachout for social support

If your studies are more stress than stress-relief, that’s okay. I’m a PhD student who struggles with mental health and that’s OKAY. It’s okay to need medication to support your brain’s synaptic transmission.

Find what works for you, whether medication or meditation. Enrollment in an advanced academic program doesn’t mean we don’t struggle - it’s okay we do.

Be gentle with yourself. Let yourself make mistakes. Learn from them and grow!❤️

Check out Brianna’s awesome website for doggy science:


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