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Treating Depression

January 20, 2015

Depression can be a serious mental health issue undermining a person’s ability to function. Depression can undermine one’s ability to fulfill one’s role be it as partner, parent, worker, etc. This in turn can undermine relationships, children’s development and income.

Common symptoms of depression in adults include: eating and sleep disturbances; lethargy; a sense of gloom and/or doom; in some cases a crankiness; in more serious cases, thoughts of suicide or even suicidal behavior.

Common treatment for depression includes medication, counseling or a combination of both.

For counseling to be effective it must either address one’s thinking or behavior directly as in the case of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or it must directly address other causative or underlying factors such as past traumas the result of childhood issues, current challenging relationship issues, other real life distressing events, personality variables or lifestyle issues.

Because depression can intrude upon relationships and few people live in a vacuum, counseling should also include at least an educative component involving one’s partner and family.

In order to determine what treatment is best for any one individual, a bio-psycho-social assessment is required.

In a bio-psycho-social assessment, the assessor, be it a physician, social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist will ask a myriad of questions related to physical health, family of origin, past and current relationships, personality disposition, work, and general well-being. This is a very active process of questions and answers. It is often helpful to have a loved one or friend present for this discussion.

The assessor will seek to determine the likely contributing elements to the depression to apply the most appropriate treatments. Without a bio-psycho-social approach, your treatment provider may not be targeting the right contributing factor and as such it may render the treatment ineffective.

Your treatment provider should also respect your input into treatment decisions. The role of the assessor/treatment provider is to determine and provide the best options for you to then make a well informed choice.

Lastly, your treatment provider should be active in the counseling process, offering you direct insights into contributing factors determined through the assessment and offering strategies for addressing those issues.

To choose an assessor and/or treatment provider look for someone not ideologically driven by rigid beliefs about depression or mental health generally and whose solution is always the same. Find someone whose view of contributing factors is broad and who will happily refer to treatment by others if the assessment of the underlying issues supports a treatment not offered by the current assessor or treatment provider.

Also, look for someone who is not ideologically driven to be either pro or anti medication but takes a measured approached supported by research. This person must be able to work collegially with other service providers when necessary so that your treatment is coordinated and integrated.

(Download this article as a printable one-pager.)

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships.

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