Archive for category Depression

[BLOG POST] UCLA offers transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat patients with depression

Download PDF Copy

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on antidepressants, but the National Institutes of Health estimates that those medications work for only 60 percent to 70 percent of people who take them. In addition, the number of people with depression has increased 18 percent since 2005, according to the World Health Organization, which this year launched a global campaign encouraging people to seek treatment.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA is one of a handful of hospitals and clinics nationwide that offer a treatment that works in a fundamentally different way than drugs. The technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation, beams targeted magnetic pulses deep inside patients’ brains — an approach that has been likened to rewiring a computer.

TMS has been approved by the FDA for treating depression that doesn’t respond to medications, and UCLA researchers say it has been underused. But new equipment being rolled out this summer promises to make the treatment available to more people.

“We are actually changing how the brain circuits are arranged, how they talk to each other,” said Dr. Ian Cook, director of the UCLA Depression Research and Clinic Program. “The brain is an amazingly changeable organ. In fact, every time people learn something new, there are physical changes in the brain structure that can be detected.”

Nathalie DeGravel, 48, of Los Angeles had tried multiple medications and different types of therapy, not to mention many therapists, for her depression before she heard about magnetic stimulation. She discussed it with her psychiatrist earlier this year, and he readily referred her to UCLA.

Within a few weeks, she noticed relief from the back pain she had been experiencing; shortly thereafter, her depression began to subside. DeGravel says she can now react more “wisely” to life’s daily struggles, feels more resilient and is able to do much more around the house. She even updated her resume to start looking for a job for the first time in years.

During TMS therapy, the patient sits in a reclining chair, much like one used in a dentist’s office, and a technician places a magnetic stimulator against the patient’s head in a predetermined location, based on calibrations from brain imaging.

The stimulator sends a series of magnetic pulses into the brain. People who have undergone the treatment commonly report the sensation is like having someone tapping their head, and because of the clicking sound it makes, patients often wear earphones or earplugs during a session.

TMS therapy normally takes 30 minutes to an hour, and people typically receive the treatment several days a week for six weeks. But the newest generation of equipment could make treatments less time-consuming.

“There are new TMS devices recently approved by the FDA that will allow patients to achieve the benefits of the treatment in a much shorter period of time,” said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, director of the Semel Institute’s TMS clinical and research service. “For some patients, we will have the ability to decrease the length of a treatment session from 37.5 minutes down to 3 minutes, and to complete a whole course of TMS in two weeks.”

Leuchter said some studies have shown that TMS is even better than medication for the treatment of chronic depression. The approach, he says, is underutilized. “We are used to thinking of psychiatric treatments mostly in terms of either talk therapies, psychotherapy or medications,” Leuchter said. “TMS is a revolutionary kind of treatment.”

Bob Holmes of Los Angeles is one of the 16 million Americans who report having a major depressive episode each year, and he has suffered from depression his entire life. He calls the TMS treatment he received at UCLA Health a lifesaver.

“What this did was sort of reawaken everything, and it provided that kind of jolt to get my brain to start to work again normally,” he said.

Doctors are also exploring whether the treatment could also be used for a variety of other conditions including schizophrenia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.

“We’re still just beginning to scratch the surface of what this treatment might be able to do for patients with a variety of illnesses,” Leuchter said. “It’s completely noninvasive and is usually very well tolerated.”

Source: UCLA offers transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat patients with depression

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] Doctors use magnetic stimulation to ‘rewire’ the brain for people with depression

Doctors use magnetic stimulation to ‘rewire’ the brain for people with depression

Dr. Andrew Leuchter talks with a patient who is about to undergo transcranial magnetic stimulation, which treats depression by sending magnetic pulses to a specific area of the brain. Credit: UCLA Health

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on antidepressants, but the National Institutes of Health estimates that those medications work for only 60 percent to 70 percent of people who take them. In addition, the number of people with depression has increased 18 percent since 2005, according to the World Health Organization, which this year launched a global campaign encouraging people to seek treatment.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA is one of a handful of hospitals and clinics nationwide that offer a  that works in a fundamentally different way than drugs. The technique, , beams targeted magnetic pulses deep inside patients’ brains—an approach that has been likened to rewiring a computer.

TMS has been approved by the FDA for treating  that doesn’t respond to medications, and UCLA researchers say it has been underused. But new equipment being rolled out this summer promises to make the treatment available to more people.

“We are actually changing how the brain circuits are arranged, how they talk to each other,” said Dr. Ian Cook, director of the UCLA Depression Research and Clinic Program. “The brain is an amazingly changeable organ. In fact, every time people learn something new, there are physical changes in the brain structure that can be detected.”

Nathalie DeGravel, 48, of Los Angeles had tried multiple medications and different types of therapy, not to mention many therapists, for her depression before she heard about magnetic stimulation. She discussed it with her psychiatrist earlier this year, and he readily referred her to UCLA.

Within a few weeks, she noticed relief from the back pain she had been experiencing; shortly thereafter, her depression began to subside. DeGravel says she can now react more “wisely” to life’s daily struggles, feels more resilient and is able to do much more around the house. She even updated her resume to start looking for a job for the first time in years.

During TMS therapy, the patient sits in a reclining chair, much like one used in a dentist’s office, and a technician places a magnetic stimulator against the patient’s head in a predetermined location, based on calibrations from brain imaging.

The stimulator sends a series of  into the brain. People who have undergone the treatment commonly report the sensation is like having someone tapping their head, and because of the clicking sound it makes, patients often wear earphones or earplugs during a session.

TMS therapy normally takes 30 minutes to an hour, and people typically receive the treatment several days a week for six weeks. But the newest generation of equipment could make treatments less time-consuming.

“There are new TMS devices recently approved by the FDA that will allow patients to achieve the benefits of the treatment in a much shorter period of time,” said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, director of the Semel Institute’s TMS clinical and research service. “For some patients, we will have the ability to decrease the length of a treatment session from 37.5 minutes down to 3 minutes, and to complete a whole course of TMS in two weeks.”

Leuchter said some studies have shown that TMS is even better than medication for the treatment of chronic depression. The approach, he says, is underutilized.

“We are used to thinking of psychiatric treatments mostly in terms of either talk therapies, psychotherapy or medications,” Leuchter said. “TMS is a revolutionary kind of treatment.”

Bob Holmes of Los Angeles is one of the 16 million Americans who report having a major depressive episode each year, and he has suffered from depression his entire life. He calls the TMS treatment he received at UCLA Health a lifesaver.

“What this did was sort of reawaken everything, and it provided that kind of jolt to get my  to start to work again normally,” he said.

Doctors are also exploring whether the treatment could also be used for a variety of other conditions including schizophrenia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.

“We’re still just beginning to scratch the surface of what this treatment might be able to do for patients with a variety of illnesses,” Leuchter said. “It’s completely noninvasive and is usually very well tolerated.”

 Explore further: Study finds non-invasive method that may help speed relief from depression

Source: Doctors use magnetic stimulation to ‘rewire’ the brain for people with depression

, ,

Leave a comment

[VIDEO] Brain Injury and Depression – YouTube

Why do people experience depression after brain injury? Learn about the connection between traumatic brain injury and depression in this video. Dr. Frank Lewis, Ph.D., a cognitive psychologist and NeuroRestorative’s Director of Clinical Outcomes, addresses the symptoms and causes of depression following brain injury. He provides advice to family members and treatment options to help individuals cope with depression and continue to heal from their injury.

,

Leave a comment

[Abstract] Use of Computer and Mobile Technologies in the Treatment of Depression

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Studies in technology-assisted self help for anxiety and depression found that therapist assisted treatment was optimal for clinical depression and technology-based treatment alone may be efficacious for subthreshold mood disorders.
  • There has been no robust evidence of health benefits from peer-to-peer electronic support groups, however, for patients who have social isolation, there may be some benefit.
  • Despite the preponderance of mental health apps and widespread acceptance, there is a significant lack of empirical data documenting likely uptake, best strategies for engagement, efficacy, or effectiveness of mHealth initiatives.
  • Biosensing technology offers the ability to reach an immense volume of people through automated monitoring which could lead to more widespread achievement of early diagnosis and intervention and ameliorate rising medical costs of acute or ineffective treatment.
  • mobile technologies can be used to record and monitor the type, intensity, frequency, and duration of exercise as a means to motivate users and enhance the potential effectiveness of exercise for treating depression.

ABSTRACT

Major depression (MDD) is a common and disabling disorder. Research has shown that most people with MDD receive either no treatment or inadequate treatment. Computer and mobile technologies may offer solutions for the delivery of therapies to untreated or inadequately treated individuals with MDD.

The authors review currently available technologies and research aimed at relieving symptoms of MDD. These technologies include computer-assisted cognitive-behavior therapy (CCBT), web-based self-help, Internet self-help support groups, mobile psychotherapeutic interventions (i.e., mobile applications or apps), technology enhanced exercise, and biosensing technology.

Source: Use of Computer and Mobile Technologies in the Treatment of Depression – Archives of Psychiatric Nursing

, , , ,

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] MRI brain scans may help clinicians decide between CBT and drug treatment for depression

Researchers from Emory University have found that specific patterns of activity on brain scans may help clinicians identify whether psychotherapy or antidepressant medication is more likely to help individual patients recover from depression.

The study, called PReDICT, randomly assigned patients to 12 weeks of treatment with one of two antidepressant medications or with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). At the start of the study, patients underwent a functional MRI brain scan, which was then analyzed to see whether the outcome from CBT or medication depended on the state of the brain prior to starting treatment. The study results are published as two papers in the March 24 online issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The MRI scans identified that the degree of functional connectivity between an important emotion processing center (the subcallosal cingulate cortex) and three other areas of the brain was associated with the treatment outcomes. Specifically, patients with positive connectivity between the brain regions were significantly more likely to achieve remission with CBT, whereas patients with negative or absent connectivity were more likely to remit with antidepressant medication.

“All depressions are not equal and like different types of cancer, different types of depression will require specific treatments. Using these scans, we may be able to match a patient to the treatment that is most likely to help them, while avoiding treatments unlikely to provide benefit,” says Helen Mayberg, MD, who led the imaging study. Mayberg is a Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Radiology and the Dorothy C. Fuqua Chair in Psychiatric Imaging and Therapeutics at Emory University School of Medicine.

Mayberg and co- investigators Boadie Dunlop, MD, Director of the Emory Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, and W. Edward Craighead, PhD, J. Rex Fuqua Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, sought to develop methods for a more personalized approach to treating depression.

Current treatment guidelines for major depression recommend that a patient’s preference for psychotherapy or medication be considered in selecting the initial treatment approach. However, in the PReDICT study patients’ preferences were only weakly associated with outcomes; preferences predicted treatment drop-out but not improvement. These results are consistent with prior studies, suggesting that achieving personalized treatment for depressed patients will depend more on identifying specific biological characteristics in patients rather than relying on their symptoms or treatment preferences. The results from PReDICT suggest that brain scans may offer the best approach for personalizing treatment going forward.

In recruiting 344 patients for the study from across the metro Atlanta area, researchers were able to convene a more diverse group of patients than other previous studies, with roughly half of the participants self-identified as African-American or Hispanic.

“Our diverse sample demonstrated that the evidence-based psychotherapy and medication treatments recommended as first line treatments for depression can be extended with confidence beyond a white, non-Hispanic population,” says Dunlop.

“Ultimately our studies show that clinical characteristics, such as age, gender, etc., and even patients’ preferences regarding treatment, are not as good at identifying likely treatment outcomes as the brain measurement,” adds Mayberg.

Source: MRI brain scans may help clinicians decide between CBT and drug treatment for depression

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

[BLOG POST] Let’s Talk About Caregiver Depression (And the Courage It Takes to Face It)  

We would like to add our voice to the millions of others saddened at Robin’s passing.

His family and friends were privy to the magnitude of his disease. Dealing with the daily implications of addiction and depression takes heroic effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with those closest to him. Their loss is unfathomable. He was certainly bigger than life.

Robin Williams was a publicly troubled soul. His dependence on drugs and alcohol and his many attempts at recovery received a great deal of press. Under no circumstances is this tragic loss to be minimized as just another celebrity succumbing to the power of substance abuse. The man was depressed. As caregivers, we can be all too familiar with caregiver depression and how hard it is to deal with. Whether we are caring for someone who suffers or we are struggling with our own hopelessness, this prevalent form of mental illness has a great stigma attached to it. This stigma only adds to the problem.

There are people who believe that you should be able to will yourself out of depression; that it is a condition of choice—an easy excuse.

As someone who has been both depressed and has cared for a spouse with severe depression, I want to acknowledge those of you who, as carers, live with the reality of the severity of this condition every day. It is hardly an easy excuse. It’s painful. Sometimes it’s a triggered by physical illnesses with names like cancer or heart disease; but frequently it is the disease and those caring for someone who is depressed often go unacknowledged. We recognize you and want you to know we are here for you.

Depression. It’s a “brain disease” according to Dr. Drew, the celebrity rehab expert, who wants everyone to accept the fact that “Addiction and depression can be fatal.” We know caring for someone with depression can be frustrating because they want to shut us out so they can suffer silently; this leaves us to suffer as well. 

I can attest to the feelings of loneliness and despair I felt and can speak of my own problems with alcohol and drugs, that finally led to a diagnosis of depression. This all happened a very long time ago; now I can listen, and encourage people to be more open about their depression and the many forms it takes.

I know I never felt that I was taking the easy way out; it took courage to face each and every day.

Robin made us laugh. He made us cry. He touched us. His was a talent is one we will not see the likes of again and he will be sorely missed. Tragically, he couldn’t be saved and who knows whether mental illness will ever be a thing of the past. But, one thing we can do is to raise public awareness of a disease that affects an estimated 30 million Americans.It’s time we dispensed with the stigma of this disease and faced the dangerous reality of ignoring it. Depression isn’t funny.

Source: Let’s Talk About Caregiver Depression (And the Courage It Takes to Face It) | The Caregiver Space

,

Leave a comment

Depressed stance. Charles M. Schulz. – Brains, Cognition, & Psychology stuff

Depressed stance. Charles M. Schulz.

Source: (96) ☤ MD ☞ ☆☆☆ Depressed stance. Charles M. Schulz. | Brains, Cognition, & Psychology stuff | Pinterest

Leave a comment

[WEB SITE] Ketamine – More Than a Recreational Drug.

concert-1149979_1280

Ketamine was first introduced in 1962. It was initially presented as a fast acting general anesthetic, being widely used as a battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s. Ketamine is considered a dissociative anesthetic – it creates an altered state of consciousness, distorting the perception of sound and vision, and producing a feeling of detachment from oneself and from the environment which provides pain relief, sedation, and amnesia.

In the clinic, ketamine is mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. Given its fast sedative action, it is frequently used in emergency situations. Its main effects usually begin within five minutes of injection and last up to 25 minutes.

But ketamine can have some impactful psychological side-effects as the medication wears off, such as agitation, confusion, or hallucinations. The latter is the main reason for its use as a drug of abuse or recreational drug. Ketamine began to be illicitly consumed in the 1970s and, nowadays, it is equally known for its medical and recreational use. Ketamine can produce illusions or hallucinations that are enhanced by environmental stimuli, which explains its popularity as a club drug.

Ketamine is still used in medical contexts as an anesthetic, although its use has become less common and more restricted. However, in recent years, a new use for ketamine has been emerging.

Ketamine as an antidepressant drug

Recent studies have shown that ketamine has fast antidepressant actions in patients with major depressive disorder, even in those with the most treatment-resistant forms of depression. Major depressive disorder is a highly disabling condition with limited treatment options that are often ineffective. The onset of depression is poorly understood but it is thought to derive from a combination of neurochemical factors and triggering life events, such as overwhelming stress. Potential neurochemical factors include defects in the major neurotransmitters of the central nervous system, glutamate and GABA.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Experimental studies in animal models of depression have associated glutamate with depression, showing that there may be altered levels of glutamate receptors; increased glutamate concentrations have also been found in the brains of patients with major depressive disorder. Since ketamine acts by blocking the action of the NMDA glutamate receptors, this is a likely mechanism for its fast action in depression.

Indeed, a single dose of ketamine has been shown to be able to normalize the activity of glutamate receptors. Importantly, the effects of ketamine occurred only at low doses, indicating that these antidepressant effects can occur without the psychological side effects associated with high doses of ketamine.

GABA, on the other hand, is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It has also been associated with depression – mice with an impairment of GABAergic transmission exhibit behavioral signs that mimic the emotional patterns of depression, which supports the view of a causal link between GABAergic neurotransmission and depression. Major depressive disorder has been linked to reduced levels of GABA and GABA receptors, and to reduced expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase, an enzyme that converts glutamate to GABA.

These two effects may seem contradictory, but these deficits in the GABAergic system may actually lead to increased glutamate concentrations. However, some studies have also reported reduced rather than increased brain levels of glutamate. This has led to the hypothesis that depression may actually be associated with a dynamic balance between changes in GABAergic and glutamatergic transmission. The mechanisms underlying this possible relationship were mostly unknown, but a new study published on the journalBiological Psychiatry sheds light on this subject.

A matter of balance

A stable and regular functioning of neural networks relies on an ability to maintain a balance between inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission. In the mentioned study, and with the goal of understanding how the balance between GABA and glutamate levels may be linked to depression, the consequences of GABAergic deficits on glutamatergic synapses were investigated. It was found that mice with depression associated with GABAergic deficits also showed reduced expression and function of glutamate receptors.

A decrease in the number and activity of glutamatergic synapses was also found. Treatment with a sub-anesthetic dose of ketamine led to a lasting normalization of glutamate receptor levels and glutamatergic synapse function. These results indicate that depression in mice with impaired GABAergic neurotransmission involves a balancing reduction of glutamatergic transmission that can be normalized for a prolonged period of time by the rapidly acting antidepressant ketamine.

This study thereby establishes the link between the GABAergic and glutamatergic deficits described for depression, and suggests that it may be caused by a dysregulation of the equilibrium mechanisms that act to restore the balance of excitation and inhibition. It is possible that conditions of chronic or repeated stress, which may trigger the development of depression, may do so by affecting the balance between GABA and glutamate levels, or by impairing the mechanisms that could restore that balance. Indeed, chronic stress has been shown to decrease the production of glutamate receptors and to render GABAergic inhibition ineffective.

This work also reinforced the antidepressant efficacy of ketamine. However, ketamine will always have a huge drawback due to its drug-of-abuse properties. The use of other NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists without the side-effects of ketamine has been tested with promising results, leading to similar effects as those obtained with ketamine. Here may lay the answer.

References

Garcia, L., Comim, C., Valvassori, S., Réus, G., Stertz, L., Kapczinski, F., Gavioli, E., & Quevedo, J. (2009). Ketamine treatment reverses behavioral and physiological alterations induced by chronic mild stress in rats Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 33 (3), 450-455 DOI:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2009.01.004

Hashimoto, K., Sawa, A., & Iyo, M. (2007). Increased Levels of Glutamate in Brains from Patients with Mood Disorders Biological Psychiatry, 62 (11), 1310-1316 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.03.017

Ionescu, D., Luckenbaugh, D., Niciu, M., Richards, E., Slonena, E., Vande Voort, J., Brutsche, N., & Zarate, C. (2014). Effect of Baseline Anxious Depression on Initial and Sustained Antidepressant Response to Ketamine The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 75 (09) DOI: 10.4088/JCP.14m09049

Jansen, K. (2011). A Review of the Nonmedical Use of Ketamine: Use, Users and Consequences Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 32 (4), 419-433 DOI:10.1080/02791072.2000.10400244

Li, N., Lee, B., Liu, R., Banasr, M., Dwyer, J., Iwata, M., Li, X., Aghajanian, G., & Duman, R. (2010). mTOR-Dependent Synapse Formation Underlies the Rapid Antidepressant Effects of NMDA Antagonists Science, 329 (5994), 959-964 DOI:10.1126/science.1190287

Luscher, B., Shen, Q., & Sahir, N. (2010). The GABAergic deficit hypothesis of major depressive disorder Molecular Psychiatry, 16 (4), 383-406 DOI:10.1038/mp.2010.120

Morgan, C., Curran, H., & , . (2012). Ketamine use: a review Addiction, 107 (1), 27-38 DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03576.x

Niciu, M., Ionescu, D., Richards, E., & Zarate, C. (2013). Glutamate and its receptors in the pathophysiology and treatment of major depressive disorderJournal of Neural Transmission, 121 (8), 907-924 DOI: 10.1007/s00702-013-1130-x

Ren, Z., Pribiag, H., Jefferson, S., Shorey, M., Fuchs, T., Stellwagen, D., & Luscher, B. (2016). Bidirectional Homeostatic Regulation of a Depression-Related Brain State by Gamma-Aminobutyric Acidergic Deficits and Ketamine TreatmentBiological Psychiatry DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.02.009

Image via Unsplash / Pixabay.

Source: Ketamine – More Than a Recreational Drug | Brain Blogger

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

[ARTICLE] A structured multicomponent group programme for carers of people with acquired brain injury: Effects on perceived criticism, strain, and psychological distress. – Full Text HTML

Abstract

Objectives

The purpose of this study was to examine whether a brief structured multicomponent group programme for carers of people with acquired brain injury (ABI) was effective in reducing carer distress, strain, and critical comments between carer and person with an ABI compared to a waiting list control condition.

Design

Waiting list controlled study. Pre- and post-test design with outcomes measured at induction, at the end of the intervention, and at the 3-month follow-up.

Methods

One hundred and thirteen carers took part in the study: 75 carers in the intervention group and 38 in the waiting list control group (2:1 ratio). All participants completed assessments of caregiver strain (Caregiver Strain Index), perceived criticism towards and from the person with an ABI (Perceived Criticism Scale), and psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). The person with an ABI was also assessed on the Functional Independence Measure/Functional Assessment Measure.

Results

Using an intention to treat analysis, there were significant effects of group (intervention vs. waiting list control) at the 3-month follow-up on carers’ perceptions of stress and strain resulting from caring, and perceptions of criticism received by the carer from the person with an ABI. A subsequent per-protocol analysis showed an additional reduction at 3 months in levels of criticism expressed towards the person with an ABI by the carer. There was no significant effect of the intervention on psychological distress.

Conclusions

The structured multicomponent carers programme showed beneficial effects in terms of reducing carer strain and in the reduction of elements of perceived criticism at the 3-month follow-up; however, it did not significantly affect psychological distress in carers, suggesting the need for additional support for this group of carers.

Enhanced Article (HTML) Get PDF (267K)

Continue —> A structured multicomponent group programme for carers of people with acquired brain injury: Effects on perceived criticism, strain, and psychological distress – Fortune – 2015 – British Journal of Health Psychology – Wiley Online Library

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

[TED-Ed Lesson] 5 ways you can help a friend suffering from depression.

5 ways you can help a friend suffering from depression

image

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world. In the United States, close to 10 percent of adults struggle with depression. But because it’s a mental illness, it can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol.

One major source of confusion is the difference between having depression and just feeling depressed. Almost everyone feels down from time-to-time, but Clinical Depression is different. It’s a medical disorder, and it won’t go away just because you want it to. It lingers for at least two consecutive weeks and significantly interferes with one’s ability to work, play or love. Chances are you know someone who suffers from depression. Here are some ways you can help.

image

1. Help find help: If you know someone struggling with depression, encourage them – gently – to seek out help. You might even offer to help with specific tasks, like looking up therapists in the area or making a list of questions to ask a doctor. To someone with depression, these first steps can seem insurmountable.

image

2. Be informed: If they feel guilty or ashamed, point out that depression is a medical condition just like asthma or diabetes. It’s not a weakness or a personality trait, and they shouldn’t expect themselves to “just get over it” any more than they could will themselves to get over a broken arm. The more you know about mental illness, the better able you are to understand what they are going through, and to support them.

image

3. Don’t downplay it: If you haven’t experienced depression yourself, avoid comparing it to times you’ve felt down – comparing what they’re experiencing to normal, temporary feelings of sadness can make them feel guilty for struggling.

image

4. Stamp out stigma: Even just talking about depression openly can help. For example, research shows that asking someone about suicidal thoughts actually reduces their suicide risk. Open conversations about mental illness help erode stigma, and make it easier for people to ask for help. And, the more patients seek treatment, the more scientists will learn about depression, and the better the treatments will get.

image

5. Continue the conversation: Because depression’s symptoms are intangible, it’s hard to know who might look fine, but is actually struggling. Just because your friend may seem fine one day, don’t assume that they’ve ‘gotten better’. Remain supportive.

From the TED-Ed Lesson: What is depression?

Animation by Artrake Studio/TED-Ed

Source: 5 ways you can help a friend suffering from depression |

,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: