Monday, October 26, 2009

Giving Advice about Depression

I was trying to tell someone I love about how to determine if she is clinically depressed. This person, whom I'll call Mary, said, "My therapist thinks I'm depressed, but I'm just not sure."

I asked if she knew the symptoms of depression. She said she did, but she didn't feel they fit her situation. "I'm just not motivated," she said. "I can't force myself to do the things I need to. And I don't know why."

"When did you notice a difference in your behavior?" I asked.

"About a month ago," she answered.

"Was there anything that happened which caused you to feel this way?" I asked.

"Not that I know of," she said.

"Why does your therapist think you're depressed."

"Because of the motivation issues," she said.

"Did your therapist say anything else?"

"She suggested I talk to a psychiatrist."

"Are you going to do that?" I asked.

"I've made an appointment," she said. "But I'm not sure whether I'd feel okay about taking medication. What do you think?"

"Well, I'm neither pro or anti medication," I said. "Even though I've had terrible problems with it, I know people for whom it was a Godsend. Still, I strongly believe there are steps you should take before you take medication. I am a big believer in keeping detailed mood charts," I said. "I don't believe things happen in a vacuum or that depressive episodes come out of nowhere. And I strongly believe that you can learn to figure out triggers from mood charts. And...I also strongly believe in exercise, which has been proven to be more effective than anti-depressive medication."

"I won't do either," she said.

I sighed...

(to be continued)


Christine Forest, M.D. said...

You say you are not a professional mental health worker, but you are asking your friend all the right questions and recommending valid solutions, which shows that mental health is really not racket science but a matter of common sense, mostly. For good measure, I do hope she will talk to a psychiatrist sooner rather than later.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Christine,
Welcome to my blog. And thanks so much for your comment.

From your bio, I see you've developed a program for your patients that's been very effective in helping them overcome bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety and other "mental maladies." I look forward to reading your blog this afternoon when I have more time.


Tamara (TC) Staples said...


You asked all the right questions and made perfectly sound and doable suggestions. I have the same frustrations with family or friends that don't want to do anything more than have the doctor "fix them." I hope your friend decides to at least try exercise. I don't know that medication alone is going to help her.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
I sure agree on this, and it is difficult. With most other people, the moment they tell me everything they can't/won't do, I stop participating. But, this is someone special.