What Does Depression Look Like In A 5 Year Old An Integrated Approach to Treat Depression

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An Integrated Approach to Treat Depression

Depression, anxiety, phobias and mental health are in the media almost daily and it seems that depression is fast becoming one of society’s biggest problems. These conditions increasingly affect people living in the modern world, and research has led to estimates that at least 17% of the adult population have had or will have an episode of depression of sufficient clinical severity to require treatment. A 1973 National Institute of Mental Health Special Report on Depressive Disorders reported that depression accounted for 75% of all psychiatric hospitalizations and that in any given year, 15% of all adults between the ages of 18 and 74 may suffer from significant depressive symptoms. Current studies show that the lifetime risk of depression in the adult population may be as high as 30%.

Along with the increased incidence of depression, there has been an explosion in the use of prescription drugs to treat the condition, but recent reports have questioned whether they are effective or really simply creating more problems for the patient. Accordingly, there is a growing interest in finding a new approach to treat these conditions. Having studied clinical psychology and psychotherapy, I am able to incorporate many accepted practices. However, the more I worked with individuals and groups, I found that by integrating the Eastern-inspired approaches I had learned in India, I was able to achieve much more effective and lasting results in less time.

Understanding depression

In psychiatry, depression is referred to as a mood disorder. Mood disorders have been known to man since ancient times; The Old Testament describes King Saul as suffering from severe depressive episodes. However, the term covers a wide range of emotions from deep depression to boundless joy and mania, and therefore understanding the behavior of individuals suffering from depression can be very challenging.

All people experience a range of emotions and they are generally a healthy part of life and feeling appropriate emotions contributes positively to our well-being. However, emotions are of two main types; first, affective emotion, in other words, a short-term emotional response to an event, and second, mood, which is a permanent and dominant emotional response that colors the whole psychic life.

More than 90% of depressed people experience long-term moods of sadness, despondency, or feeling like they don’t care anymore. However, when classifying a person as having a major depressive episode, doctors look for five or more of the following symptoms that have been present during the previous two weeks. There should also be a change in previous functioning, with at least one symptom being either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

Symptoms:

1. Depressed mood most of the day.

2. Markedly decreased interest or pleasure in all or nearly all activities for most of the day.

3. Significant weight loss while not dieting or gaining weight, e.g. change of more than 5% of body weight per month. Or a decrease or increase in appetite almost every day.

4. Insomnia (sleeplessness) or hypersomnia (excessive sleep) almost every day.

5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation almost every day.

6. Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day

7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or disproportionate guilt

8. Impaired ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness

9. Recurring thoughts of death

No random factor has been identified as to why people get depression. Research points to many factors that appear to contribute to its development, including genetics, biochemical changes, and theories of personality. Several research papers have produced findings that suggest that relatives of patients with major depressive disorders have a higher prevalence of depression than people in the general population. Other research has focused on the biochemical correlates of depression, studying the role of chemicals that transmit nerve impulses from one neuron to another in the brain. While several theories related to depression have been developed regarding personality types.

My experience as a doctor has led me to view each client as an individual whose needs require personal attention. Human beings are complex creatures whose health and well-being depend on balance in all dimensions of their lives, from physical health to behavioral, energy and even environmental aspects.

Treatment of depression

Conventional Western medicine generally treats depression with drugs such as tricyclic, heterocyclic antidepressants and newer SSRT drugs. Commonly used psychological therapies for treating depression are individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Eastern psychotherapy integrates Eastern methods such as meditation, yoga, pranic or energy healing, mantra and sound healing with elements of traditional psychotherapy developed in the West. In the treatment of depression and other mental health conditions, it is vital to look for causative factors and examine problems using Ayurvedic principles as well as acknowledging the spiritual component. Sometimes it may also be appropriate to study the astrological chart of the person being treated to better understand the influences affecting the individual and gem therapy may be recommended which is a commonly accepted practice in many parts of Asia.

The treatment of conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety is undoubtedly enhanced by the use of complementary techniques. The value of seeking help from professionals who have worked with both approaches is that they can choose the right treatment option for each individual. Orthodox techniques are often effective in dealing with symptoms, however Eastern practices may be more helpful with underlying causes. A therapist who understands each individual’s personal needs is better able to provide them with an empowering approach to their illness. For some, the focus may be on traditional Western methods, but for others, accelerated and positive results can be achieved by combining the best of East and West in an integrated treatment program.

With an integrated approach to depression, most individuals are able to benefit within 3 or 4 sessions, sometimes less, depending on the nature of their condition. With any therapeutic approach, it is important to ensure that clients do not develop a dependence on the treatment or enjoy only a temporary respite because the underlying causes have not been addressed.

CASE STUDY

Miss K, a 35-year-old woman, did not respond to conventional treatment. The holistic approach included energy and environmental assessments as well as her medical training. She had a five-year history of depression that was particularly severe in the previous six months. She was on anti-depressants and had several counseling sessions that she didn’t like.

An energy level assessment revealed some blockages in the heart and solar plexus chakras. The environment at home was dark and gloomy, with black and gray being her main choice; there was no energy flow.

She was advised to try a combination of energy therapies including Reiki and music/mantra therapy along with some suggestions for changes to the home environment. She also used herbal medicine (St. John’s wort), massage and acupuncture, and embarked on six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy. Her program lasted six months, but she responded very well and has been depression-free for over a year, reporting that she feels generally well and is actively engaged in her life and personal development.

TEXT ENDS

November 2008

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