When Depression Becomes Debilitating
Anyone who has struggled through a period of deep melancholy can attest to the intense power of emotions it triggers. We all suffer the occasional emotional fallout associated with difficult life events or circumstances. Pain endured from loss of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, diagnosis of a serious medical condition, or a broken heart can sideline us for a period, these phases commonly referred to as “the blues.” Most will manage to wind through the disappointment, fear, or sadness and the low mood will eventually stabilize with no intervention required. For others, a cluster of pronounced symptoms may linger long after the triggering event, refusing to let up no matter how much time has passed. Depression can cause severe fatigue, impairing the person’s ability to function at work or at home. Even getting out of bed is a chore for those with serious depression. When depression becomes debilitating it is important to ensure the person is receiving the professional treatment they need, as an increased risk of suicide can develop. Treatment for major depressive disorder must involve an integrated program that includes both traditional evidence-based therapies and medication, as well as holistic and experiential activities that enhance the treatment process by complimenting psychotherapy. Depression can be successfully treated and managed with the right combination of interventions.

About Major Depressive Disorder

Although major depressive disorder (MDD) affects about 16 million U.S. adults per year, only a small percentage of people actually seek out treatment. A stubborn stigma still surrounds mental health conditions, including depression, acting as a barrier to getting help. Some people may not know where to even begin to get help and instead continue to suffer in silence. As a result, some may begin to use alcohol or drugs to self-medicate as a means of masking the unbearable depression symptoms. But treatment for MDD can be very effective, and should be sought out especially when depression becomes debilitating. The DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing depression involves five or more of the following symptoms having been present most of the time for more than two weeks: 1. Persistent depressed or sad mood 2. Recent unexplained weight gain or loss 3. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions 4. Fatigue 5. Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed 6. Persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair 7. Irrational feelings of guilt or shame 8. Slowed thinking and motor skills 9. Obsessing about death or suicide The cause of MDD is still widely unknown, although science has identified several potential factors in developing clinical depression. These include genetics, temperament, environmental factors, and brain chemistry/biology.

Dual Diagnosis

A dual diagnosis, which indicates a co-occurring substance use disorder, is present in a significant number of individuals who suffer from depression. This may come about when the individual begins to use the substance in order to find relief from the symptoms of MDD. Alcoholism is the most common coexisting disorder with MDD, only adding to the person’s misery. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so instead of helping the individual, it only increases the intensity of their symptoms while also adding profound health risks. A dual diagnosis creates a more complicated treatment strategy. It is now believed that, to achieve the best long-term treatment outcome both disorders, the MDD and the alcoholism, should be treated simultaneously. Dual diagnosis treatment requires specialized training, so treatment should be sought at dual diagnosis program when depression presents with a coexisting substance use disorder.

Treatment for Depression

There exists an industry standard within the field of mental health treatment for treatment of MDD. This traditionally includes both antidepressant therapy and psychotherapy. Antidepressants are plentiful, with about thirty different brands on the market for treating depression. Initially, a doctor will take a leap of faith in prescribing antidepressants for a patient, using their training and treatment criteria to select the medication best aligned with the patient’s needs. Antidepressants can take upwards of four weeks to begin to take effect, which can be frustratingly slow. If one drug does not show promise, the doctor will have the patient trial another drug, or may just adjust the dosage. Psychotherapy involves talk therapy and is available in various modalities. Generally, in treating individuals with MDD, mental health practitioners may select a behavioral-based therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or a cognitive-based therapy such as psychodynamic therapy. There are two main functions of psychotherapy for the depressed patient, to help them explore potential underlying pain points, such as a past trauma or other distressing life event, and to help the patient reshape their internal thought-behavior messaging and responses.

Holistic Therapies for Depression

When depression becomes debilitating, it is in the complimentary therapies that the most yardage is gained. That is because these holistic activities help the individual gain a deeper perspective into their spiritual being, discovering new insights about themselves that can become therapeutic breakthroughs. These activities include such things as mindfulness training, guided meditation, yoga, journaling, art therapy, and massage therapy. In addition to the experiential activities, overcoming depression is enhanced by regular cardio exercise, such as daily walks, dance cardio, hiking, cycling, swimming, or running. Couple exercise with a nutritious diet of lean proteins, leafy greens, fresh fruits, whole grain breads and pasta, seeds and nuts, as this Mediterranean diet will promote improved brain health.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides an Integrated Approach to Treating Depression

Elevation Behavioral Health is a luxury residential mental health and dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California. Nestled in a tranquil canyon above Malibu, California, Elevation Behavioral Health provides an intimate six-bed setting for individuals in need of healing from depression, instead of an cold, institutional setting. The spacious and beautiful 10,000 square foot home features unmatched luxury in both the interior and exterior grounds. This mental health and wellness program for depression or dual diagnosis is built upon a foundation of proven therapeutic modalities, such as CBT and DBT. Added to that are holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness training, and meditation, to offer a fully integrated approach to depression treatment. When depression becomes debilitating, a serene, relaxing environment, compassionate therapists, and upscale accommodations can go a long way toward reintroducing joy in life. For more information, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.
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