NEWARK – An estimated 16 million Americans, nearly 7 percent of the population, experience major depressive disorder annually, and yet it’s an illness many people do not understand.
Drs. Elizabeth and Grant Yoder, psychiatrists with Licking Memorial Outpatient Psychiatric Services, hope to change that by bringing more awareness about what MDD is, what causes it and how it can be treated.
“It’s a very common mental disorder that doesn’t always get as much attention. There’s campaigns for ALS and for many types of cancer, but you don’t see many campaigns for depression because it’s a little more taboo,” Grant said. “We want to ease people’s fears about talking about this and educate them.”
The two presented a talk titled “Demystifying Depression” at Licking Memorial Hospital’s corporate breakfast Tuesday morning, focusing on breaking the stigmas associated with the illness. One of the first things they wanted the audience to know is that depression does have biological and genetic causes, so it’s not just all in the person’s head as some people say.
To diagnose someone with MDD, he or she must be in a depressed mood that generally lasts all day every day for more than two weeks and exhibit a reduced interest in activities. Other symptoms include:
• Changes in appetite
• Changes in sleep
• Psychomotor abnormalities
• Low energy
• Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
• Impaired concentration
• Suicidal thoughts
Together the symptoms have to cause some kind of impairment to the individual’s social or occupation function, Elizabeth said.
If someone is experiencing these symptoms, the first step for treatment is to visit his or her primary care physician. These doctors can recognize the symptoms and make an assessment as to what the patient needs. For mild depression, the primary care physician might recommend getting some therapy and more exercise. If it’s moderate to severe, the doctor would likely prescribe medication, Grant said.
From that point, if a patient is not responding to the treatment it could be time to visit a psychiatrist, Grant said. But if someone is in a crisis and needs immediate medical attention, he or she should contact an inpatient care facility, he said.
The Yoders see many patients coming in for a first visit, but many of them never return for a second one.
“It can be very scary to talk to someone who is going to peel back these layers and really look at you,” Elizabeth said. “We try to show them the studies behind therapy and really involve them with their treatment. When they get that experience up front, when they feel like we’re part of a team, they’re more likely to come back.”
In other cases patients simply get frustrated that they aren’t walking out of the office a changed person. But therapy is a process, Elizabeth said, and in many cases can take up to six weeks before patients begin noticing a significant change.
There are multiple ways to treat depression, including the use of medications and forms of therapy. Other treatments include electroconvulsive therapy, where seizures are electrically induced in patients; transcranial magnetic stimulation, which sends pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression; and vagus nerve stimulation, a surgical option that places a device on the vagus nerve to deliver regular electrical impulses to the vagus nerve.
Finding the right treatment can also take time, but the important thing is that the patient is getting treatment, Elizabeth said.
“When you treat mental illness, that person’s entire life gets better. We have a 360 impact,” she said.
•211 Crisis Hotline
•Mental Health America of Licking County: 740-522-1341
•Behavioral Healthcare Partners: 740-522-8477
•Shepherd Hill: 740-348-4873
Licking Memorial Outpatient Psychiatric Services
The office is located at 200 Messimer Drive in Newark. All doctors at this practice are currently accepting new patients. For more information or to make an appointment, call 740-348-4873.
Found in The Newark Advocate June 9, 2015