By Dr. Isaac Schumann
Health care providers can take care of depressed people. A physician, for one, has also training in treating psychiatric disorders. The same goes with the physician assistant and the nurse practitioner. If the case is severe, these health care providers will automatically refer the patient to mental health specialists.
The mental health specialists are composed of the following: psychiatrist, psychologist, a psychiatric nurse specialist and even a social worker.
The psychiatrist offers treatment and diagnosis for mental and psychiatric patients. A psychologist, on the other hand, is trained for counseling, psychological examination and psychotherapy. The social worker knows counseling to a certain degree, whereas a registered nurse who has taken masterals in psychiatric nursing can help out the patient.
Before the diagnosis can be made, the health care providers or mental health specialists will ask the patient on the following: symptoms, overall health and medical and mental history of the family. A physical exam will be carried out as well as some lab tests.
Depression, being an illness, requires tremendous emotional support from the family. A family member must accompany the patient on doctor visits to give the latter a boost.
During the course of the visit, the doctor will figure out if the case is severe, mild or moderate. Depression is severe if the person experiences all the symptoms and if it keeps him from doing all his daily activities. Moderate, if the person has a lot of the symptoms that it hampers his activities. It can be categorized mild if the person has some of the depression symptoms and if he needs more push to do all the things he needs to do.
No one must underestimate depression. It is a real illness, and therefore the patient needs all the help and attention he can get.
As said earlier, you are not alone in this problem. Fortunately, depression, of all psychiatric illnesses, proves to be one of the most treatable. With proper care, more than 80 percent of those suffering from major depression experience significant improvement. Even those suffering from severe depression can helped. Here are some treatments for depression problems:
Psychotherapy There are many types and methods of therapeutic approaches used for treating depression. The most common types are behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, rational emotive therapy, and interpersonal therapy. Approaches also include psychodynamic and family approaches. Both the individual as well as group modalities have been used commonly, but these depend on the severity of one's depression, the financial resources of the person, and resources that are available locally.
Arguably the most prominent therapy in treating depression, the cognitive behavioral therapy is commonly used for handling the condition. There has been extensive research and medical studies that conducted to check or assess the safety as well as the effectiveness in treating depression using this type of therapy.
Considered the father of cognitive behavioral therapy, many written studies and books support this type of therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy uses simple techniques that focus primarily on the patient's negative thought patterns. These negative thought patterns are also known as cognitive distortions. A person suffering from depression may from time to time use these cognitive distortions, igniting the condition.
The therapy starts with the establishment of a supportive and warm environment for one suffering from depression. Making the patient learn about how his or her depression problem may be a result of thinking in cognitive distortions is generally the next step. The types of faulty logic and thinking are also discussed in this step (such as "everything or nothing logic," "blame mis-attribution," "overgeneralization," among others) and the person being treated is encouraged to start taking notes of the thoughts he or she has been having as they happen throughout his or her day. This is conducted for the person to understand and realize how often and common this kind of thoughts are occuring.
In this type of therapy, the emphasis is mainly placed on realizing the thoughts as well as the behaviors that are associated with the depression problem rather than on the emotions themselves. The rationale for this emphasis is that is strongly believed that by altering one's thoughts and consequently, behaviors, his or her emotions will most likely change as well. Because of this type of therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy is often short-term (generally lasts up to a dozen sessions or two only) and best suits people that are experiencing some kind of distress that is related to the depression they are having. Individuals that are able to handle a problem using a perspective that is unique and therefore are most likely cognitively-oriented could also do well under this approach.
Interpersonal therapy, on the other hand, is also a therapy on a short-term basis used for treating depression. In this type of treatment, the focus usually lies on the social relationships of the patient and determine ways in improving these relationships. It is strongly believed that in order to improve the overall well-being of a person (or the patient in the case); he or she needs to have a stable and good social support.
When a person's relationships become unhealthy, the person would most likely suffer from this problem. This therapy approach then seeks to enrich one's skills in social relationships, expression of his or her emotions, assertiveness, and communication skills. This type of approach is usually done individually but sometimes can be used also in a setting for group therapy.
Many individual approaches would place importance more on the patient's active personal involvement in recovering from depression. Persons being treated under an individual approach are usually enticed and encouraged to finish homework assignments between sessions. If the person is not capable yet to join in therapy sessions actively, then his or her therapist could be the one to first provide the patient an environment that supports him or her until the medication starts to help improve his or her state of feelings and mind.
Psychodynamic or psychoanalytic approaches in treating depression currently do not have much research to recommend their use. Although there are some therapists that might use psychodynamic theory in helping conceptualize a patient's personality, there are some issues raised on how this could prove to be an effective and efficient depression treatment.
Couples or family therapy could also be considered if the depression of the patient directly affects family relationships. These types of therapy focus on the interpersonal relationships among family members. In addition, these approaches seek to ensure good communication in the family. The roles of the family members in a patient's depression could be examined. Education about the depression problem in general might also be used as part of the family therapy.
Medication The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved numerous medications for treating depression. These drugs have been sorted into classes; each medication has a unique chemical structure which acts on various chemicals present in the brain.
It is necessary to remember that all medications approved by the DFA to treat depression are effective and recommended - they just do not work the same effect for everybody.
You might want to closely work with the doctor in determining which drug is the best for your condition. Sometimes, conditions may involve having more than just one medication; some work with a mixture of medications. This is important: Do not change your medication or discontinue your dosage without asking your doctor.
About The Author
Dr. Isaac Schumann brings to you a life time of experience in the mental health field.