Friday, 27 April 2012

An Approach to the Treatment of Depression

Depression is the most complex of all possible conditions to come to a conclusion about. The causes of it can be any one, or more than one, of the following: loneliness or lack of social support; stressful life experiences; relationship problems; history of depression in the family; financial problems; drug or alcohol abuse; sexual abuse; unemployment; on-going health problems; residual problems left after child abuse or neglect; miscarriages of justice; problems to do with sexuality; problems associated with poor housing; neighbourhood or environmental problems; homelessness; and poor diet.
Because the reasons for depression are so varied, a doctor faced with a person suffering from it needs carefully to consider the following, in the order given: the circumstances giving rise to the condition; the state of the person’s mind; and the state of the patient’s body.
In considering the circumstances causing depression a doctor may need to, in addition to any treatment given, refer a patient to any of the following: the police (in sexual abuse or neighbourhood problems cases); specialist support services in relation to drug or alcohol abuse; the housing authorities (in the case of poor housing or homelessness); environmental agencies; welfare services; marital help counselling; or legal help services. Only when the underlying cause of the problem has been fully assessed, should consideration be given to the mind and body. 
The main conventional treatments for depression are anti-depressant medicines, psychoanalysis and behavioural therapy. Clearly what has to change ,in most cases, is the person’s outlook on life. Irrespective of what has happened in the past, there is a need to in-still in the patient a more positive outlook in relation to the rest of his/her life.
If a patient is severely depressed or suicidal, then the use of prescription drugs may be appropriate. In situations where drugs are prescribed, it should be pointed out to the patient that they are only a short-term measure to treat the symptoms; and that the long-term solution lays both in a change in outlook and behaviour.
There isn’t much evidence to support the view that psychoanalysis works for people suffering from depression. Several thousands of people have gone through this process and the indications are most felt no better at the end than they did at the beginning.
Therapy is probably the most constructive approach to the problem, provided the therapist understands that each person is unique, and it can be tailored to address the main cause of the problem. Positive thinking and behaviour in relation to the patient’s problems can be cultivated during therapy sessions.  A therapist needs to explain to the person under care that the main object of the limited-time therapy is to empower the individual to help themselves after the sessions have finished.
Lastly, what goes into the depressed person’s body by way of food and drink needs consideration.  A diet consisting mainly of protein and complex carbohydrates is best. The patient should avoid anything that contains added sugars, or anything that easily converts to sugar, in order to stop a sudden hike in blood sugar levels followed by a swift drop. Sugar in the diet should be obtained from eating mainly raw fruits to ensure the stability of blood glucose levels. Products containing caffeine, such as coffee, should be avoided because they can lead to mood swings; and there is a need to stay away from alcohol because it causes depression.
Vitamins B1 and C, as well as the mineral zinc, are so crucial to the diet in cases of depression that these should be taken as food supplements in addition the other dietary choices indicated above.
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