Category Archives: therapy

I Think I’m Depressed – What Now?

Many people have a hard time accepting that they may be depressed. They feel some level of shame or embarrassment, which is unfounded considering that depression is a disease. If you had cancer, wouldn’t you go to a doctor?

Depression hits people of all ages and races. Currently, there are an estimated 15 million people in the US suffering from depression. Realistically, that number is probably higher than what’s reported. Regardless, 2/3 people don’t get any sort of treatment for depression, which is a waste because depression is a treatable illness.

Nobody knows what causes depression. You may be able to identify a trigger, or a stressful event like divorce or death of a loved one as causing your depression, but it may have existed prior.  There is no one reason why depression sets in; however, stress, hormones, and genetics can increase the risk. 

The longer depression lasts, the worse your symptoms may get and the harder it will be to treat.

Without treating depression, people can struggle for months or years feeling absolutely miserable. If you do decide to seek treatment, there are a lot of effective and proven ways to treat depression. Doctors will try psychotherapy or antidepressant medication. Studies have found that combined treatment of therapy and medication works better than medication on its own.

Lifestyle changes can help depression, which is something you and your therapist can talk over. Managing stress, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising have all been shown to help. The important thing is that there are many options out there.

Some people are appropriately apprehensive when it comes to taking medication. Common worries include if the drugs will change one’s personality, or concerns regarding the side effects. The doctor will inform you about potential side effects. Regarding altering your personality, depression has already put you in a fog and the medication may help you return to your original self.

For those that are interested, antidepressants work by making the nerve cells form stronger and healthier connections to specific parts of the brain. The most common antidepressants are called SSRIs. These types of drugs can take weeks or months to be effective.

Therapy has been shown to have more lasting benefits than medication. Talking to a stranger about the problems bothering you may make you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to remember that therapists are a skilled professional and they will not judge you. Everything is confidential!

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you see how your own thought patterns can contribute to your depression and it teaches practical ways to change them.

Many people seek a holistic approach to treat depression. There’s the view that if it comes from the Earth, it is natural, and therefore less harmful. However, natural supplements have side effects as well. You should talk to a doctor or do extensive research before taking them. The evidence is unclear if natural herbs actually work or not. Supplements like fish oil and folic acid may have some benefits, but other supplements really don’t do anything.

So how does one start treatment? You can get a referral from your family doctor or call the 1-800 number on the back of your insurance card and they will find you a mental health provider. The American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association also have online locators. Some family doctors prescribe antidepressants but finding a psychiatrist (someone who specializes in mental disorders as opposed to general medicine) will be more beneficial for treatment.

Physical symptoms of depression can include: headaches, back pain, muscle aches, joint pain, chest pain, digestive problems, exhaustion & fatigue, sleeping problems, change in appetite or weight, dizziness or lightheadedness.

Benefits of treating depression include: better sleep, better libido, pain or discomfort relief, improved health, better work performance, better memory, happier home life, healthier lifestyle, increased sense of control, decreased future depression, and stronger ties with family.

Some people avoid getting treatment for the following reasons:

  • “I’ll snap out of it if I give it time.”  You can’t snap out of being depressed. Having the blues may pass, but clinical depression will linger and get worse if it is not treated.
  • “‘I don’t want to take antidepressants.” Psychotherapy is always an option. Cognitive behavioral therapy deals with your thoughts and feelings now; it works to improve your thought pattern and your quality of life.
  • “I don’t feel sad all the time. Why do I need treatment?” Sometimes, people with depression see their clinical physician for ailments like muscle pain or sleeping problems, not knowing that they are symptoms of depression. You don’t need to be crying all the time to be depressed.
  • “I’m embarrassed to talk to my doctor about it.”  Depression is not something to be ashamed of, it is a common medical condition. Your doctor has already treated patients just like you.

You can always voice your concerns to your therapist or doctor and they will work with you to make you feel more comfortable. Apex Behavioral Health is always available to help treat your depression. Make an appointment and help yourself!

Postpartum Depression in Fathers

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found 10% of men have prenatal and postpartum depression; more common than previously thought.

James Paulson, the author of the study who works at the department of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical school, said “It’s not screened for and caught enough in women, and I would say in practice it [depression in new fathers] is virtually unknown. Most clinicians and most moms and dads aren’t aware that there’s an increased risk of depression for fathers.”

Depression in fathers has potential negative implications for the family, along with the child’s development, behavioral, and emotional health.

The study also found that depression in fathers had an association with depression in mothers; when moms were more depressed, so were dads. However, more research is needed to see how the two are related, for one parent’s mood has not been proven to cause the other’s.

Researchers analyzed 43 studies of documented depression in fathers between the first trimester and the first year after childbirth between January 1980 and October 2009, which led to data on more than 28,000 participants.

The study found that about 25% of new fathers had depression in the first 3 to 6 months after childbirth. While the study did not examine causes, the author suggests that leaves of absence from work normally expires around 3 months; care for the infant changes as do sleep schedules.

The United States had the highest rates of fathers’ depression at 14%, while countries abroad had depression rates of about 8%. The countries analyzed in the study were primarily from developed countries.

The reasons for the differences are unknown, but Paulson theorizes that the U.S. has comparatively stricter family-leave policies in the work place than some European countries do.

“In the U.S., there’s a known problem with men seeking help for depression and a documented stigma with mental health,” said Paulson, citing possible additional causes.

Limitations of the study are that it drew from a large pool of studies that had different methodologies and different ways of reporting and measuring depression. Therefore, the authors can’t determine what the prevalence of depression is in any specific time frame.  Additionally, the overall analysis may include bias inherent in the studies that put it together.

Regardless, the findings do point to a need for greater screenings of depression in expecting fathers. The authors wrote that the connection between parents’ depression suggests that depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other.

The study said, “prevention and intervention efforts for depression in the parents might be focused on the couple and family rather than the individual.”

Depression rates among men of different age groups were not compared, and the study did not have any teen fathers.

 Postpartum depression symptoms in men include sadness, anxiety, and worthlessness. Men may experience it more in the forms fo anger, irritabilty and withdrawal than in sadness, which is a common symptom in women.

Paulson says that the first step in addressing the problem is to get both spouses and physicians to recognize that new and expecting fathers are at increased risk for depression and may need treatment such as psychotherapy and medication.

“Actually getting fathers to the point where they’re talking to a doctor about it is the most difficult challenge,” he said. “Once fathers are in the appointment, I think they have a much better chance of getting effective help for depression.”

What to Expect at Your First Visit

What to expect at your first appointment:

Overall, your initial appointment will be with one of our social workers or psychologists. He or she will ask you a serious of questions to gain an understanding of your problems and what resources you use to help with  your problems. Along with those, he will also ask what barriers you may have that may be preventing from you from solving your problems.

You will develop a treatment plan with your therapist. Your therapist will also review with you whether medication would assist you in your treatment, and if so, would reccomend for you to see a psychiatrist.

Length of time in treatment depends on individual circumstances. Your therapist will  review and develop this with you, along with what progress you will have and approximately when you should feel progress.

Difference between Mental Health professionals

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with additional training in the treatment of mental health and chemical dependency problems.

Psychologists have a masters or doctorates degree in psychology with a minimum of two years experience and are called limited licensed psychologist of licensed psychologists.

Social workers have a masters degree in social work with a minimum of two years experience.

What mental health professional you will see depends on your problem areas. We will match you with a mental health professional who has the most expertise to help you.  

Co-pays and deductibles

A majority of insurance companies require you to contribute to the cost of your care. A deductible is a dollar amount you are required to pay before your insurance begins to pay Apex Behavioral Health for your care. A co-pay is the amount you are required to pay in addition to what the insurance company pays Apex.

We require that you pay your deductible or co-pay on the day we provide service. We have found that this prevents large balances from accumulationg that could cause you stress.

For your convenience we accept cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Please bring your insurance card and drivers license to the first appointment.

Changing therapist or psychiatrist

We try to match you with a therapist or psychatrist who will best help you with your problems. If it is not a good match you can request that support staff schedules your appointment with a different mental health professional. It is encouraged that you discuss this with your therapist or psychiatrist first.

Will my family be involved?

Whether or not your family is involved depends on your unique situation. We always involve parents in treatments of children. We encourage family involvement but ultimately this is to be discussed with your therapist.

 Confidentiality

What you tell us is held in the utmost confidence. Both state and federal law  protects your confidentiality. You must sign a release of information to  allow us to share information about you.