Depression – A Human PerspectiveSeptember 7th, 2018
I have been practicing psychiatry for almost 10 years, and of all the mental health conditions I have treated, depression is the one that, in my opinion, has the most global impact, affecting patients and their families. Depression burrows its dark roots in every sphere of a patient’s life.
I can understand how other psychiatrists, especially those practicing longer than I have, can become almost numb to the symptoms patients will describe. It is easy to just listen for a checklist of criteria and then formulate the treatment plan. However, it is not just a checklist for the patient, rather, it is their story. Yet, they feel that they are not the author; depression is writing the story for them.
These patients desperately want to take the pen back and gain control of their lives. Many patients feel they are alone with their story. When I describe their own automatic negative thoughts to them even before they say it out loud, there is a clear, visible sign of relief, as if the patient is saying, “How do you know this?” Their shoulders drop, their eyes grow wider, and I tell them, “because you are not alone with those thoughts.” I educate them on the classic patterns of thought when driven by depression, but I reassure them, “This is not the new you.”
I remind the patient that these thoughts and feelings they are experiencing can and will get better. Instilling hope is the key, because it is the truth. I reflect with the patient the fact they are sitting in my office speaking to me about their day-to-day struggles is evidence that they have hope. There is a way to lift this depression, so they can live their lives driven by their own thoughts and feelings and hold the pen to write their own story.
It is very rewarding and humbling every time I have that conversation with my patients, to bring relief with hope as their step (the first step is when they walked through my office door). I always want the patient and their families to understand there is a common thread within people suffering from depression: the difficulty motivating themselves to get out of bed, the loss of interest, the general sadness despite happiness around them, but these symptoms do not define them. Each of their stories are special, and my goal with every patient suffering from depression is to not only provide treatment options, but more acutely, to let the patient tell their story and feel heard and understood.
My experience treating depression patients has shown me that these individuals are more than their constellation of symptoms; they are fellow human beings who need empathy and guidance from another human being. Depression may connect those suffering from their similar symptoms, but our humanity connects us all.
If you or a family member are struggling with depression, you can find relief with SuccessTMS. Contact us today at 561-240-0194.
Dr. Lindsay Israel