Typically a course of treatment for depression will begin with an evaluation session. Depending on circumstances, your evaluation may take one session or several. At the conclusion of the evaluation, we will verbally give you a treatment plan with estimates about the projected length of treatment and any difficulties which we foresee that may complicate your treatment.
One of our initial assessments will be to determine if your case is severe enough that you might benefit from antidepressant medication. If we feel that this would help, we will refer you back to your family doctor or to a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation. Then we will begin your psychotherapy.
Typically we use cognitive behavior therapy to treat depression. This involves looking at how you think -- your cognitive behavior. How you think greatly influences how you feel. For example, if you keep thinking that life is hopeless and that you are helpless in the face of overwhelming life circumstances, you are likely to start feeling depressed. And the more you think this way, the more depressed you will feel! So we begin by helping you look at your thinking behaviors. Often just paying attention to this stream of your life experience is enough to help you lift yourself out of the depression.
During the course of your treatment, we will give you exercises to help you change your style of thinking. Over time, with proper coaching, you will gradually change how you think and find your way out of the depression.
Often, as we progress in treatment, we find that there are underlying reasons for your engaging in the kind of thinking that leads so quickly to depression. Perhaps you came from a family that was very critical . . . or perhaps your home life was chaotic and you could do very little to influence the chaos swirling around you. In these cases, we can go deeper into your inner dynamics. Often we can find hidden patterns which have controlled your behavior and which have regularly led you into depressive episodes. When we find these deeper dynamics, we shift gears somewhat in our treatment and look at family-of-origin issues.
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