Chad is going through a condition known as depression. Many people undergo a period of sadness as a normal reaction to the disappointments, struggles and setbacks in life. Depression accounts for more than one in ten years of life lived with disability. Its prevalence is ten percent, and it ranks fourth as causes of disability worldwide.
The first step to managing the condition is to seek help from a medical doctor or preferably a mental health specialist. There are certain medications and medical conditions, for instance hyperthyroidism, which can cause depression-like symptoms. A doctor can examine the patient fully to rule out the differential diagnoses.
If there are no significant findings, a psychological evaluation will have to be done. The case may then be referred to a mental health specialist. Once diagnosed with depression, the specialist will initiate treatment. It should be noted that one treatment will not work for everyone. Treatment is personalized to fit the individual’s needs.
The approach to management is based on the biopsychosocial model. Optimal benefits are achieved from a combined approach. Biological treatment includes the use of antidepressants for six to eight months and if relapse occurs, continue for two years. Other physical treatments include electroconvulsive therapy, light therapy and psychological management.
Electroconvulsive therapy is, however, not preferred by many patients due to its numerous side effects. These include confusion, disorientation and memory loss. These side effects usually disappear with time. The patient should give informed consent before allowing the procedure to be performed on them.
Examples of antidepressants used include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors and Mono-amide Oxidize Inhibitors. According to the Monoamine Hypothesis, these serve to increase the serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels. Medications relieve the symptoms but are not a cure.
There are two types of psychotherapies in use: cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps the individual think positive about themselves. It also helps in identifying the cause of the depression.
Interpersonal therapy helps the individual understand and solve relationship problems that may be the cause their condition. Chad should learn how to recognize and accept his emotions. He should also ask for help from his friends and relatives. A strong social support system will speed up his recovery. For mild and moderate depression, psychotherapy is enough treatment.
He should make healthy lifestyle changes. They are not easy to make, but they have a significant impact on depression. He should cultivate supportive relationships, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. Eating healthy food and learning how to manage stress is also helpful. He should consider practicing relaxation methods and techniques. Learning how to build his emotional skills will give him the ability to cope with any adversities and trauma he experiences.
He will become resilient if he learns how to express his emotions. He should also break up heavy and large tasks to small ones. He should expect the depressive mood to improve gradually and not immediately. He should postpone important decisions until he feels better. He should set realistic goals for himself and continuously educate himself on depression.
According to the ‘Attachment theory’, the relationship between an infant and the adult taking care of them dictates whether the individual will get depressive disorder in adulthood. An early loss or separation by the caregiver may all lead to insecurities in the future as the individual will feel unloved and unwanted. Chad should consider talking to a counselor in case an incident like this happened in his life.
Darjee R., Jonathan B., McIntosh A., Sempel D., Smyth R. (Eds.). (2005). Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry. London: Oxford University Press.
Rohan K. J., Lindsey K., Roecklein A. (2007). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Light Therapy and their combination in treating seasonal affective disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 80, 273-283.
Cochran SV, Rabinowitz F. E. (2004). Men and Depression: clinical and empirical perspectives, San Diego: Academic Press.
NIMH. Depression – National Institutes of Health (NIH). (n.d.). Web.