Depression, which can be experienced as depressed or low mood, loss of concentration, loss of pleasure in activities, loss of energy, insomnia or hypersomnia, change in appetite (rapid weight loss/gain), feeling worthless, tearfulness and even suicidal thoughts, is unfortunately not uncommon in today’s world. As such, mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health treatment providers are well versed in treating depression. The following is a brief window into one clinician’s experience in treating depression.
First and foremost, it is never easy to hear a client’s account of the pain (mentally and even sometimes physically) that they have or are experiencing. Each client’s story is difficult to hear and yet there is always one thing that sticks out; the resilience. Even though it does not always feel like it to our clients, they are some of the strongest and most resilient people in the world. As clinicians, we often times use a scale of 1-10 (10 being best mood) to help our client’s identify how they are feeling. I once had a client describe depression to me as, “if [he] were to rate [his] mood each morning upon opening [his] eyes, it would be -2. It was a struggle each day just to get to a 1/10.” Those words have stuck with me to this day and remind me of the incredible strength that it takes to battle depression.
One of the reasons why I am passionate about working with people who are battling depression is the momentum that can be built in a short period of time. As a clinician, my goal is to assist my clients with climbing that towering mountain that is depression, doing so by taking it one (sometimes seemingly small) step at a time. For anyone who has taken a long hike, treating depression can be a similar journey. Initially, small steps can feel never-ending however after a short period of time, you look up and begin to see how far you have come in a short period of time. In time, the steps become easier and can even be enjoyable as the depression lifts.
A Client’s Story
One of my favorite stories was that of an 85 year old widow who was struggling with symptoms of depression. She was referred to a Partial Hospitalization Program that I was a team member at as her depression had become severe. A Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is designed as a step-down program from inpatient psychiatric treatment and consists of daily treatment for at least 5 hours of treatment (including group/individual therapy and psychiatric care) In some cases however, like the aforementioned case, PHP is used to mitigate the risk of a hospitalization. When she was admitted to PHP, the above described client was quite convinced that treatment was not going to work. She had unsuccessfully undergone ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) for depression and was begrudgingly beginning to think about TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) to help with her depression. Despite her grim outlook, this client was a daily participant in group therapy with her participation and overall engagement increasing each day. She also began to work with me individually and again, begrudgingly but in a stubbornly determined fashion set and achieved small goals each day. Her depression began to lift slowly but surely and based on a routine assessment that the client completed, she was no longer a consideration for TMS due to a lower symptom severity. The client continued to progress, was ultimately discharged from PHP where she successfully landed in outpatient treatment. During routine outpatient treatment, she continued to make progress and began to re-engage with her family, hobbies and community. I will forever be honored to have been able to work with this client. Her strength, resilience, bravery and determination were unmatched and will always serve as a reminder for the reason I am so passionate and thankful to be a part of this profession.
Treating Depression at the Anxiety and OCD Treatment of Tampa Bay
Since moving back to the Bay Area, I have been continuing to see clients who are struggling with depression (among other mental illnesses). The approaches that I use are Behavior Activation (BA) as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). BA has been proven through research to be one of the most, if not the most, effective therapeutic interventions for depression.
What is BA? Here is a brief overview. Perhaps you or someone you love has struggled with depression. The symptoms of depression (as explained above) very often inhibit our ability to engage in work/school, our social life and our hobbies. Unfortunately, a day can quickly turn into a week of disengagement and sometimes longer. We feel worse and do less and thus begins the cycle of depression. Behavior activation works, in short, to flip that cycle on its head. Studies show that doing more (in small steps) can help us feel slightly better and chip away at the depressive symptoms that are so crippling. Eventually, with the support of a therapist, family, friends and loved ones, studies show that BA can treat depression successfully. Activation is the answer!
Along with BA, I also use other strategies to help with treating depressive symptoms such as challenging negative thought patterns, providing support through active and reflective listening and utilizing motivational interviewing (fancy wording for meeting my clients where they are at and eliciting change if needed).
Get help now!
If you are someone you know is struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mario Juster-Kruse today for a free phone consultation.
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