Mental illness plagues thousands of Americans and wreaks havoc on their lives and the lives of their family and friends. The Center for Disease Control reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Much of the problem lies within the context of mental illness and depression in particular.
Dual Diagnosis: Depression Treatment
Depression is one of the most debilitating mental illnesses and it is a precursor for suicidal thoughts and actions. The good news is that psychological counseling and psychotropic drugs are very effective in treating depression. Sadly, many people who suffer from depression never receive any treatment. About a third of adolescents with depression are treated and about half of young adults with depression are treated.
Minorities such as Latin Americans, African Americans and Asian Americans have the lowest rates for depression treatment, yet, oddly enough, they have lower suicide rates than White Americans. This phenomenon is believed to exist because these minority classes may have stronger family bonds where they can talk out their problems.
Types of Depression
Depression is believed to be caused by multiple factors such as a person’s genetics, biology, environment and psychological make-up. There are different types of depression that are expressed with unique symptoms. Some types of depressive disorders include:
- Major Depression: Causes severe symptoms that interfere with daily life. The person suffering from major depression will have difficulty working, socializing, sleeping, studying, eating and enjoying life. The person will most likely suffer from more than one repeated episode.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder: This type of depression will last for more than two years and episodes will fluctuate from less severe symptoms to major depression.
- Psychotic Depression: This is a type of severe depression that co-occurs with psychosis. Usually, the person who suffers from psychotic depression will have delusions, hallucinations or other experiences that are devoid of reality.
- Postpartum Depression: This type of depression is experienced by women after giving birth. The physical and hormonal changes in the body, plus caring for a newborn, become overwhelming for the new mother and this leads to depression. Approximately 15% of new mothers experience postpartum depression.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD occurs during the winter months when there is little sunlight. Psychological therapy, light therapy and anti-depressive medications can help to reduce SAD symptoms.
- Bi-polar: Bi-polar disorder is also known as manic-depressive disorder and is expressed by mood swings that cycle from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression).
Depression can be managed effectively with psychological counseling, anti-depressant medications and healthy lifestyle changes. To manage depression, close attention should be paid to sudden changes in moods, thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Red flag alerts include: irritability, anxiety, manic episodes, aggressive behavior, insomnia, impulsivity and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Immediate help should be sought if any of these symptoms persist.
Treatments for depression should be established based upon the needs of each individual case. Sometimes the symptoms of depression are caused by another illness, and if so that illness should be treated first.
Various psychological therapies are used to treat depression and they include: cognitive behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Often these modalities are blended and quite effective in helping the patient. Besides learning new coping skills to manage their illness, the patient is also able to talk with their counselor about their concerns. Having family and friends to talk with when they are troubled about something also helps immensely and joining a support group is another added bonus. Being able to talk to someone you can trust is one of the most effective therapies.
Playing sports, exercising, hiking, swimming or any other physical activity will increase dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain and make the patient feel good about them self and life. In some cases, making healthy lifestyle changes can replace dependency on anti-depressants.
Eating a nutritious diet and taking vitamin supplements may also help to keep the body, mind and emotions balanced. Getting enough sleep is also a very important aspect of staying balanced. The lack of sleep will increase sadness, fatigue, irritability, moodiness, and depression.
Learning how to handle stress will help to keep negative thoughts at bay. Indulging in activities that bring pleasure and joy like reading, video games, painting, cooking etc. will help to de-stress. Relaxation techniques like yoga, prayer and praise will also help to eliminate stress. Therapy allows the patients to renew their minds by getting rid of negative mindsets and replacing them with positive ones. This process takes times but is most effective in its outcome. By changing their thinking patterns, the patients will conquer depression and change their life for the better.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.