A plumber who comes to fix a leaking toilet with one tool is unlikely to succeed. The same is true if a mental health professional offers only one approach to a complex problem like depression.
Alas, the number of people struggling with depression increased dramatically at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tension — from school closures to job losses to the death of loved ones — made life more challenging and increased the risk of developing emotional problems. For some groups who have experienced discrimination, persistent inequalities made their mental health even worse.
There is a professional debate about it whether depression is a social problem or a disease. Despite this debate, a 62% increase in annual spending on mental health care in the USfrom US$131 billion in 2006 to $212 billion in 2015, has not led to the intended level of improvement for patients.
This makes it clear that the current approach is inadequatebut there are plenty of viable alternatives to help treat patients suffering from depression.
We are a health and biological psychologist who treats hospitalized patients with depression and anxiety and a doctoral student in social work study how to improve the lives of socially isolated older people.
As mental health professionals, we see the effects of the ongoing mental health crisis daily.
Overdependence on medication causes harm
More than 13% of American adults are on antidepressants for depression or other reasons. Many people report feeling better on antidepressants, although there is debate about what caused the improvements.
Unfortunately, almost 3 out of 4 take these drugs do not get complete relief from antidepressants. As we discussed in a recent article, people who do not feel better on antidepressants are usually categorized as those with hard-to-treat type of depression controversially referred to as ‘treatment resistant depression’.
We see patients who feel demoralized by the implicit and untrue idea that their depression is “incurable” after they have only tried medication but not lower risk treatments such as psychotherapy and other effective alternatives. We help them find hope again.
The American healthcare system relies heavily on drugs and others biomedical treatments for depression. But in fact, there are plenty of non-drug solutions for the prevention and treatment of depression.
Holistic concepts that promote blooming And healthylike health initiatives And mind-body medicine focus on the whole person. These concepts are not yet fully integrated into public mental health approaches.
The quest to understand well-being and depression
There are many hard-working, highly successful people who feel unfulfilled with life from time to time. When this internal lack of satisfaction includes other symptoms, such as loss of hope, and becomes severe enough to interfere with daily life for a period of two weeks or more, it can be medically diagnosed as depression.
Researchers suggested that in the 1960s depression was caused by a chemical imbalance of a neurotransmitter called serotonin in the brain. In 1988, the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was introduced an antidepressant based on that idea.
However, after decades of experimentation, researchers have been unable to find evidence to support the theory of chemical imbalance. A recent study highlights the growing awareness that antidepressants are drugs do not work in the simplistic way in which they are advertised for decades.
This is important because antidepressants do side effects that can be serious. For a doctor and patient to weigh the risks and benefits of taking an antidepressant, they need accurate information about both. The chemical imbalance theory disrupted that conversation.
Tools to Cure Depression
So what exactly contributes to overall well-being and happiness to help prevent depression?
This has been shown by a large number of studies biological, psychological and social factors contribute to a feeling of satisfaction in life or to the development of depression. Because each individual is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for wellness.
Many people find relief from depression by talking to a psychotherapist. High-quality psychotherapy has been shown to be as effective as and longer lasting than antidepressants in the treatment of depression.
Therapy activates one’s hope and natural resilience creating a vault and emotionally warm relationship in which the therapist and client work together toward common goals. In addition to helping clients learn about their emotions, thoughts, relationships, and behavior patterns, a good therapist explores how to help clients identify everyday activities that can improve well-being.
The things we do every day, called lifestyle factorsfunction as building blocks for a life without depression. Physical movement, good nutrition, healthy sleep, healthy stress levels And stress management, social connection, find meaning and purpose And spiritual practices all play an important role in preventing and treating depression.
These are too often wrongly downplayed as less effective than professional treatment. In fact, however, a recent study has shown that exercise is even more effective than medication or counseling. Another eye-opening study showed that 85% of people who received no treatment still recovered from depression within a year.
As mental health professionals, we find these results both humbling and inspiring. It means the general public has solutions for depression that mental health professionals have too often overlooked. This corresponds to the scientific study of healingshowing that the body has a huge and overlooked ability to repair and heal itself under the right conditions.
Consider the example of smile therapy, a stress hormone lowering, mood-boosting practice used in 120 countries. Smile Leaders Guide groups of people in exercises that encourage contagious laughter. Not everyone will respond to laughter therapy in the same way, but it is effective in increasing the well-being of some peopleso it belongs in the toolbox of therapies to try.
Hope comes in many forms
A research initiative has identified communities, called blue zones, where people tend to live long, healthy and fulfilling lives. The lifestyles of people living in these areas, such as Ikaria, Greece, and Okinawa, Japan, are characterized by social connectedness, consumption of mostly plant-based foods, a high sense of purpose, environments that support physical movement, and intentional relaxation. Customs in different countries and environments shows that these principles are visible in many different forms around the world.
Many cultures tout the benefits of being in nature. Scandinavian countries use the word friluftsliv, meaning “outdoor living,” to describe the habit of going outside to improve well-being. in Japan, some people practice shinrin-yokutranslated as forest bathing or opening up the senses the scents of the natural worldsights and sounds.
Researchers have also found that access to green space is associated with lower levels of depression symptoms. Other studies show that gardening is connected with less depression, stronger social connections and improved quality of life. Gardening also gives people with access a chance to move their bodies and eat more homegrown vegetables as part of a healthy diet antidepressant nutrition plan.
We can’t describe everything on the endless list of life-affirming, research-backed, and low-risk methods for reducing stress, boosting mood, and increasing satisfaction. But here are a few more examples:
These seemingly simple interventions are powerful because they lead to health-promoting psychological and health-promoting effects physiological changes.
Stay true to what works
Doctors, researchers and leaders have tried to identify best treatment for depression for at least two decades.
This is an unanswerable question. Some treatments work extremely well for certain people and cause terrible reactions in others. When standard research protocols try to capture these effects, you can it seems as if there is no effect of the treatment because the positive effects coincide with the negative effects.
A Quest for the Holy Grail of A neurobiological cause of depression has diverted attention from attempts to implement what is already known about how promoting health.
Nasty live your best lifeeveryone needs safety, shelter, clothing, good nutrition, good sleep, physical exercise, loving and friendly social connection and a sense of meaning and purpose. There are many ways to help people there.