Spectrum Therapy For
By David A. Peters,
Sometimes in my practice I find I have a client
who struggles with depression so debilitating that it seems resistant to
regular treatment. We talk about what troubles them and make a few
changes in their lifestyle, but they experience no lifting of the depressive
symptoms. These clients sometimes come to me saying, "I tried
therapy before, but it didn't work." Even anti-depressant
medication may have failed to help. For these clients I recommend
what I call a "Broad Spectrum Approach" to therapy.
What is the "Broad Spectrum
Approach?" Often in therapy, only one or two methods are used to
alleviate symptoms. But if you suffer from treatment resistant depression, you can't
afford to limit your treatment. In the Broad Spectrum Approach, we
engage in a wide variety of treatment methods that are known to reduce
depressive symptoms. That
is, we battle the depression on all fronts. The Broad Spectrum
Approach is outlined below.
After a careful evaluation of your depression, I give you a thorough education
on the nature and causes of depression. This would include
psychobiology, life traumas, pathological relationships, & unhealthy
Cognitive Therapy -
Cognitive therapy is time and again proven to be the most effective method
of treating depression. Essentially, it is teaching mental
techniques to "retrain the brain" to eliminate symptoms such as
obsessions, negative self-talk, misperception of social cues, and undermining
assumptions. It's not enough to have your therapist merely listen to
your sadness. We have to retrain your brain.
Medication Trials - If
the depression is seriously debilitating, medication is essential to aid
the process of recovery. Not all doctors have enough training to
prescribe anti-depressants in complicated cases. A seasoned
psychiatrist is necessary. A variety of medications may be tried,
with some in combination. I will work with your psychiatrist to
find the best medication for your situation, and continue regular
contact so that you receive the best possible care.
Recommended Reading -
While many depressed clients are reluctant to begin reading a book, it can
be a powerful way of extending therapy into the home. After all, why
should we treat the depression only in the office, when you could be
getting help for hours on end in your home? There are many helpful
books available. See the Resources page
for some suggestions.
Group or Family Therapy - We
exist in relation to others around us. Our relationships can either
support our well-being or undermine it. Group therapy can be a powerful
addition to the treatment plan, as it allows lonely clients to break their
isolation and learn to build trusting relationships in a safe atmosphere
of support. Sometimes family or marital counseling is necessary to
correct relationships that are contributing to the depression.
Family members can make adjustments that contribute to greater respect and
promote the growth necessary for positive living.
Journal writing is a great tool to build self observation skills, and
allow for safe exploration of painful or anxiety producing issues.
Clients who journal regularly often bring into the therapy session new
thoughts or insights they achieved while writing.
Exercise - Many
depressed patients with depression have very poor physical fitness.
Yet recent research has shown that regular cardio-vascular exercise can be
as powerful as medication in lifting the weight of depression. It
improves oxygen flow to the brain and increases the availability of
serotonin that contributes to an elevated mood. Exercise is
one of the most important interventions for depression.
Dietary Changes - Poor
nutrition can contribute to slowed metabolism, fatigue, and weight gain
that undermines self-esteem. A good nutrition program builds a sense
of self-respect, and self-empowerment, and also improves energy. Foods
high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, are particularly
good for brain nutrition. You can also get Omega-3 fatty acids in
fish oil capsules, available at most nutrition centers.
Meditation - Particularly
for depression that includes anxiety or irritability, Mindfulness Meditation has been
proven to be a powerful tool for reducing emotional reactivity, and
improving the experience of personal power. I teach my clients
Mindfulness Meditation techniques as an adjunct to psychotherapy.
You can also get books that teach the technique. Again, see the
Resources page for those.
Spiritual Enrichment - No
matter your religious persuasion, some attention to spiritual practice
often fosters greater courage to make the personal changes necessary for
healthy living. Particularly for those who suffer great shame,
spiritual renewal can be an important part of your therapy program.
This approach looks like lots of work, and it is! It requires a
dedicated effort on the part of both your therapist and you. And it
takes time. But if previous treatment failed, what else can you
do? Remain depressed? I hope not! Let's get to work.
If previous treatment has failed you, contact me and ask about the Broad
Spectrum Approach to treating depression.
For more on this topic
contact David Peters, MFT at 619 491-3492