Experts Share their Biggest Lessons about Depression

Depression often is misunderstood in our society. One reason may be because it’s a variable illness. It can look different in different individuals.

There are gradients of depression. For instance, the depression may be mild -- abating after making lifestyle changes -- or more moderate -- requiring therapy and medication. And there’s no single underlying cause. People may become depressed for a range of reasons and factors.

To clear up some of the confusion, we asked clinicians and researchers who specialize in depression to share the biggest lessons they’ve learned about the illness. Below you’ll find 10 insights on everything from what triggers depression to how it’s treated.
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Pharmacogenetic Testing May Change Psychiatric Treatments for ADHD, Depression

Prescribing medications has long been a trial-and-error approach for nearly any medication you could take. That's been especially true in psychiatry, where there are dozens of medications that could be prescribed for common mental health concerns, such as anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What if doctors had a better idea ahead of time which medications may work better for you than others, based upon your unique biology and biochemical makeup? They could then make prescribing decisions with a lot more knowledge, finding you a medication that would have a higher chance of working the first time.

This process is called pharmacogenetic testing -- and it's time is fast approaching.

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Alternative Approaches in the Treatment of Depression

Our friends over at The People's Pharmacy, Joe & Terry Graedon, have a long-running radio show (or podcast, if you prefer) that is one of the best-kept secrets in natural and alternative treatments in health. They also cover mental health topics, and this past week's topic was alternative treatments for depression (alternatives to regular antidepressant medications or psychotherapy).

One of the more promising alternative treatments for chronic depression is ketamine, a medication that's been around a long time and used as an FDA-approved anesthetic and pain medication. As offered today however, ketamine is a high-cost infusion treatment for depression that requires additional refresher courses every few weeks.

Outside of ketamine, there are many other self-help methods to help with depressive symptoms -- all of which are covered in this great, must-listen-to episode.

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Kaiser Continues to Improve, But Can Do Better for California

Apparently a $4 million stick wasn't big enough to encourage Kaiser Permanente in California to offer residents better mental health care in the state. While Kaiser fixed two of the deficiencies originally identified by the government agency charged with oversight of care in California, it still didn't fix two others to the agency's satisfaction.

The two issues still a problem for Kaiser are: providing timely appointments for behavioral and mental health services, and Kaiser's inability to share information with patients.

What's the point of offering mental health care if nobody can access it?

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4 Ways a Child with Autism Affects Family Life

An autism diagnosis not only changes the life of the child diagnosed, but also that of family members. Parents of an autistic child have to bear a lot of stress owing to complicated therapy schedules, home treatments, and juggling job responsibilities and family commitments. There is also financial stress coming from the expensive therapies and treatments.

Such stress may affect family life in various adverse ways. Parents of autistic children need to meet the needs of their children, as well as address the needs of their family. Coping with the stresses involved in being parents to an autistic child can strengthen families and marriages, but this requires a great support system and a lot of hard work.

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Introducing Practical Psychoanalysis

The world of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory is one steeped in the very history of psychiatry, with some of the most recognizable names practicing it.

But modern psychoanalysis is different than psychoanalysis from a century ago. The process and techniques have been updated, so it’s not at all what is typically portrayed in old Hollywood movies.

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Transference in Therapy

I dreamed of giving him my bone marrow. I offered him poetry, homemade cupcakes, passionate sex and a basket of Honey Peanut Balance bars, his favorite. I even proposed to repaint and decorate his waiting room -- at my expense.

I was in love.

His name was David. David was my therapist.

I started treatment with him after my mother’s death from a six-month bout with cancer. Her death left me broken open, bereft. My three-year-old marriage hadn’t quite found its footing and I felt alone in my grief. So I began therapy with David expecting a psychic sanctuary.
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Borderline Personality

7 Myths about Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) and other mental illness is highly stigmatized, overlooked and looked down upon by society. BPD is characterized by poorly regulated emotional responses to events or feelings, possible urges to self-harm or commit suicide, and unstable relationships with others.

Here are 7 popular myths about borderline personality disorder:

1. Only women or mostly women have BPD.

This myth is a particularly harmful because it can work toward preventing an accurate diagnosis of BPD in men, as well as stigmatizing women and mental illnesses. While BPD is more common in women it is also fairly common in men.
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Looking for a Therapist? Key Questions to Help You Find the Right One

Clinical psychologist Ryan Howes, Ph.D, has known individuals who’ve spent more time researching their dinner reservations than their next therapist. However, going to therapy is a vulnerable process. It requires honesty and hard work. It requires revealing your struggles.

As Howes said, "You wouldn’t want to blindly trust just anyone, would you?" This is why interviewing a therapist is vital.

Also vital is spending some time researching your concerns and treatment options, said clinical psychologist Marla Deibler, PsyD. This can help you pick a practitioner who meets your needs.

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Why Do Therapists Charge So Much?

The world can be a stressful place. You are feeling overwhelmed, and nothing seems to be working consistently. You’ve reached out to friends and family. They may have helped a little, but not enough. Perhaps friends or family are somehow associated with your stress, which leaves fewer people in whom to confide.

The day has come when you finally decide to seek help to get where you want to be. As you type "psychotherapist" into your search engine, you feel a strange mix of anxiety, apprehension, and determination. Next, you find someone who seems to be a good fit for what you hope to accomplish in therapy. Finally, you’ve gained the courage to call or meet with this so-called expert, who has brought you at least some relief through validation and, perhaps, recommendations. As you get to the end of the free consultation, you ask about fees.

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HuffPo Lies: Marijuana Effective Against Depression

Wow, what a whopper there. The brazen Huffington Post Science article headline blares: "New Study Finds Marijuana To Be Effective Against Depression."

While many of us turn to the HuffPo for our entertainment news, this is an example of why it's probably not a good source to trust for science news. Because that headline isn't just inaccurate -- it's an outright lie.

There has been no study that was just published that shows marijuana to be effective against depression. Because the research HuffPo references is a study done on rats. Measuring not depression, but rather chronic stress.

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