Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Truth About Depression

In the early 90's the description of depression changed. No longer was it something that we had control over. Now depression had become clinical depression and the only cure was medication. People started believing they had to accept this horrible and helpless fate. This occurred at the same time that managed care companies started taking over the way clinicians helped individuals get well. There are always too sides of the story and managed care does a lot of good work. Drug companies have made strides in scientific achievements. This statement is not meant to obliterate or do harm where good is being accomplished. When I first started my practice in 1986 not one client was taking, nor was it recommended that they take, medication. In the mid-90's after managed care took over how treatment was handled and the drug companies jumped into action, almost everyone of my clients were either on medication or came into a session asking for it. Many sessions were spent on fear and anxiety over the emerging medication issue.

Symptoms of depression were the same whether it was referred to as depression or clinical depression. The only difference was that my clients had a great deal more anxiety about clinical depression. It made them feel helpless and as if they had an incurable disease for which the only treatment was medication and suffering side effects. There was not one iota of distinction between the two labels. I called several psychiatrists in town, the ones I trusted and sent my clients to when they needed medication, and everyone one of them was blown away by the new philosophy emerging that encouraged medication for depression. Many of the anti-depressants made clients even more depressed, even suicidal, and many took their own lives. I was horrified. I wrote to the AMA but I got no responses. I wrote to the drug companies but, again, got no responses.

Studies have since come out making it clear that walking 20 minutes a day can lift depression as significantly as any drug-- and without side effects. For those taking anti-depressants and swearing by them, this is not a statement that you should stop what works for you. But as a psychotherapist of over 30 years I am clearly remarking on what I have seen in my practice.

Here are some items to consider:
  • Grief is often confused with depression. We all need to grieve. It is part of the biological healing process. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, don't get scared, get support. You are meant to feel grief.
  • Depression is tightly connected and woven into our beliefs. What are you thinking?
  • Actions effect our moods. List your actions taken to feel better. Are you proactive or reactive?
Do one different action and think one different thought each morning. Try to remember this each day: creativity and healthy thinking help us transform out of moods we don't want to feel into a new sense of hope. Our feelings follow our actions and thoughts. This sounds simple but the effort needed is often great. But you can do this! I have seen my clients overcome situations that made them depressed and their depression ceased. Just consider it - then try doing something other than thinking you have to feel depressed, because you don't.

Jan Marquart LCSW