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Depression continues to be one of the more vexing mental health disorders, keeping mental health professionals continually seeking out new treatment methods, clinical study results, and brain imaging research to better understand how to tackle it. While the standard treatment protocol for the 16 million individuals diagnosed each year with depression continues to revolve around antidepressant drug therapy, disappointing results with SSRIs has inspired alternative approaches.
Holistic depression treatment centers are becoming more desirable in the wake of some questioning of the efficacy of antidepressants as the primary method of treating this complex mental health disorder. A number of adverse side effects make these drugs difficult to tolerate, and may only add to the individual’s distress. Now mental health practitioners are embracing holistic therapies and experiential activities, as well as alternative treatment methods, to compliment the traditional treatment interventions.
Who Is Likely to Suffer From Depressive Disorder?
Depression is the second most prevalent mental health disorder affecting Americans, second only to anxiety disorders. While depression can impact people of both genders and all ages, women are predominantly affected. Women experience depressive disorders at a rate of nearly double that of men, according to the National Institute on Mental Health, with rates of 8.5% for women versus 4.8% for men.
It is thought that the role of hormones is a factor in the much higher rates of depression among women. The hormone estrogen seems to play a significant role in some women developing depression. In fact, there are specific depressive disorders that are specific to hormonal functioning, including:
- Premenstrual Depressive Disorder
- Postpartum Depressive Disorder
- Post-menopausal Depression
Other interesting facts about depression include that the highest prevalence of depression is among the young adult demographic, between the ages of 18-25, and is surprisingly high among adolescents, with 9% of all teens aged 12-17 experiencing a depressive episode.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
The DSM-5 has listed specific symptoms related to depressive disorder, and stipulates that a cluster of 5 or more symptoms that persist for more than two weeks. These include:
- Sadness that persists for most of the time
- Loss of interest in pleasure or activities once enjoyed
- Mood swings
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Feelings of hopelessness or despair
- Slowed cognitive and motor functions
- Sudden weight gain or loss
- Sleep disturbances
- Unable to concentrate or make decisions
- Thoughts of suicide
The psychiatrist may use an assessment or screening tools to help in diagnosing the depression, such as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) or the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). A physical exam can help rule out a medical condition or medications as the cause of the depression symptoms.
About Holistic Depression Treatment Centers
Holistic depression treatment centers place an emphasis on treating more than the diagnosis. Where the traditional response to treating major depressive disorder might be through antidepressants and psychotherapy, a holistic approach will be more focused on overall wellness using integrative therapies that can enhance the traditional methods. The idea is that the human being is composed of mind, body, and spirit, and when one of those aspects of our being is out of balance or has unaddressed needs, no amount of medication is going to provide wellness.
Going hand-in-hand with this holistic treatment approach is a focus on nutrition and exercise. A diet that contributes to optimum brain health will include plant-based foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. Lean proteins, such as fish, lean beef, and turkey, omega-3 fish oil, eggs, and fermented foods are also beneficial to brain health.
Getting regular exercise helps elevate the production of endorphins, the “feel good” brain chemical that can lift mood, improve sleep quality, energy level, and concentration. An array of physical health benefits contributes to general wellbeing, or the “body” component of mind, body, and spirit.
The spiritual component is addressed through a variety of holistic activities that can lead to introspection and inner peace, which can result in new emotional breakthroughs in the treatment of the depression.
Integrated Treatment for Depression
Holistic depression treatment centers utilize a comprehensive blend of both traditional evidence-based therapies as well as experiential and holistic activities. Treatment elements include:
- Psychotherapy. Individual talk therapy sessions allow the therapist to guide the individual toward resolving unaddressed emotional issues that may be contributing to the depression. These may involve past trauma, childhood abuse, grief and loss, divorce, and other painful life events.
- Group sessions. Small groups discuss topics introduced by the therapist and engage in sharing their personal feelings and experiences. This provides a sense of connection with others who are also struggling with depression.
- Medication. Because antidepressants do help about half of the patients with depression antidepressant drug therapy is still a core treatment element.
- Adjunctive therapies. If past trauma is a contributing factor to the depression the patient may benefit from eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), an exposure therapy that involves the patient following a stimulus back and forth while discussing the trauma with the therapist. TMS therapy is a brain stimulation therapy that has shown to be helpful in correcting neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain and improving depression symptoms. TMS is often used when antidepressants stop working or do not work for an individual.
- Holistic activities. A variety of holistic and experiential activities are found to enhance relaxation and reduce stress. These include yoga, mindfulness training, massage therapy, acupuncture, equine therapy, deep breathing exercises, art or music therapy, journaling, guided imagery, gardening therapy, and sound therapy.
Lifestyle Changes that can Help Depression
Improving sleep quality has a positive effect on mood. To achieve sounder sleep the individual should attempt to keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid alcohol after 6pm, avoid caffeine after 3pm, avoid meals after 7pm, avoid exercise after 6pm, and avoid screen time (cell phones, tablets, laptops, television) one hour before bedtime.
Elevation Behavioral Health Los Angeles Holistic Depression Treatment Centers
Elevation Behavioral Health is a full-spectrum mental health center providing diagnostic services, residential mental health treatment, transitional housing, and outpatient services. Elevation Behavioral Health believes in a holistic approach to treating depression, and offers core evidence-based therapies, medication management, and holistic activities for a well-rounded program. For more details about our depression treatment program, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.