Treating Depression Often Lies In A Gray Zone – From Pills To Psychotherapy

Treating Depression Often Lies In A Gray Zone – From Pills To Psychotherapy

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By Nathaniel Morris,  November 25, 2017 –  Depression afflicts an estimated 16 million Americans every year, many of whom go to their doctors in despair, embarking on an often stressful process about what to do next. These visits may entail filling out forms with screening questions about symptoms such as mood changes and difficulty sleeping. Doctors may ask patients to share intimate details about such issues as marital conflicts and suicidal urges. Some patients may be referred to mental-health specialists for further examination.
Once diagnosed with depression, patients frequently face the question: “Are you interested in therapy, medications or both?”

 

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How To Encourage Someone To See A Therapist

How To Encourage Someone To See A Therapist

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By Mike Jones | Nov. 20, 2017   It’s hard to watch someone you care about struggle with their mental health. It’s even worse when you know they could benefit from professional help. Approaching an individual and encouraging them to seek therapy can be a tricky situation. If done the wrong way, you could aggravate the person or turn them against the idea entirely. However, there is an effective way to have this conversation.

 

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Kids Are Better Off With Pets

Antonio Balageur Soler/123RF
Source: Antonio Balageur Soler/123RF
Posted Jul 12, 2017

When I was a kid, a pet changed my life. It was not our family’s lovable mutt Frisky or even Murphy, my pet duck. No, it was a four foot yellow rat snake named Fred I got for three bucks when I was 13. He lived in a cage in my bedroom. I was transfixed by his enigmatic stare, alien beauty, and ability to swallow a mouse. I was hooked. Within a year, I had a menagerie of scaly creepy-crawlies. And while other kids were rocking out to the Beatles and Stones, I was learning the Latin names of snakes and devouring books on reptile behavior and ecology. In retrospect, Fred turned out to be metaphorical gateway drug that led me to pursue a Ph.D. in animal behavior and to eventually publish papers on topics like the love songs of alligators and the personalities of baby garter snakes.

 

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Is Internet-based mental health care as effective as in-person therapy?

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Online

 

Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is not recommended for severely ill patients, and research findings do not support a DIY approach. (istockphoto)

 

Let’s say you’ve been down in the dumps for months, but are leery of taking psychiatric drugs. Your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a form of “talk therapy” that focuses on changing the underlying thought patterns and distorted perceptions that perpetuate the “stinkin’ thinkin’” brought on by mood disorders. Several trials have shown that CBT is just as effective as medication, and highly successful in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. But what if you don’t have the time or money to see a therapist?

You could go online. In the past 10 years, dozens of Internet-delivered CBT programs have cropped up, many of them free of charge. In countries such as Australia and Britain, computerized CBT is being touted as a cost-effective way to treat greater numbers of patients suffering from the most common mental illnesses – mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

But is online CBT as effective as face-to-face sessions with a compassionate therapist? Advocates note that some patients prefer the anonymity of Internet-delivered CBT, even as they acknowledge that the treatment model still needs tweaking. Critics insist that mentally ill patients need the human touch. Both agree that more research is needed, but as things stand, here are the promises and pitfalls of psychotherapy at your fingertips.

How does it work?

Using a computer, tablet or smartphone, patients log on to an online program such as Beating the Blues or MoodGYM (which has at least 600,000 registered users worldwide). At their own pace, patients complete interactive modules on how to identify symptoms, set goals and find new ways of thinking about everyday events. For example, a module might teach the “three Cs”: Catch the unhelpful thought (“I am an idiot for forgetting my friend’s birthday”). Check it to identify the distorted thinking pattern (over-generalizing, focusing on the negative). Change it to a more accurate or helpful thought (“Everyone makes mistakes,” and “I am a good friend most of the time”). Online CBT programs may include quizzes, homework exercises and self-assessments to monitor progress.

Does it help people recover from mental illness?

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How to Move on From a Seemingly Horrific Incident

 
Gregg McBride
Source: Gregg McBride

It wasn't so long ago that I was physically attacked while walking to the gym one morning. This was during a walk I had been making for over three years at the time—and although I knew the neighborhood I was living in was a bit on the "edge," I never expected anything like this attack to happen. Granted, it was very early in the morning (before 5 a.m.)—a time of day that I've since learned that (sadly) no one should be walking by themselves.

Still, I had always been cautious when out at such an early hour. And on the day that this incident happened, I could hear noise coming from two rowdy guys sitting on a curb in the middle of the block I happened to be on. Using common sense, I crossed the street (from the side they were on) and continued on my way. I didn't have far to go—only about two more blocks until I would reach the gym I belonged to.

When I noticed one of the guys running over to me, I could tell from his somewhat manic behavior that there was going to be trouble. These two guys were not vagrants and didn't even look to be criminal types. They did, however, seem to be very high on some kind of substance. The guy crossing over to me kept asking, "Where are we? Where are we?"