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Treatment for Depression During and After the Pandemic

By Sam White, 07/15/2021 - 12:02

Treatment for Depression During and After the Pandemic

There is no questioning the global pandemic has exacerbated depression in the general population — a recent survey found almost 4 in 10 U.S. adults reported anxiety or depressive symptoms during the pandemic, up from 1 in 10 the previous year. Many believe the general fear of the virus, reports of mass casualties, and strict guidelines that kept people from socializing or leaving their home are to blame, all the while forgoing treatment due to the aforementioned restrictions. What’s more, the pandemic compounded situations many professionals already considered to cause bouts of depression, including unemployment, loss of a family member or friend, contracting the virus, and isolation

Many experts believe the pandemic may have a lasting impact on mental health for years to come. For these reasons, the means to treat depression (or major depressive disorder) should be in the repertoire of every mental health professional. Right now is a smart time to update your knowledge of depression treatment or continue your education of contemporary therapeutic methods for depression. In this article, we will look at significant facts and figures that mental health professionals should know about the pandemics' effect on the population's mental health.

Diagnosing depression during the pandemic

One reason to consider continuing your education on depression treatment is the overlapping symptoms with the side effects created by the pandemic. Social restrictions and quarantine can force situations that cause sadness, loneliness, or a sedentary lifestyle that may mimic depression symptoms. For mental health professionals, this can make assessing and treating depression harder than ever; and misdiagnoses are not uncommon, with previous studies finding up to ⅓ of diagnoses incorrect. 

As a refresher, the DSM-5 defines mood disorders as:

“A period of at least two weeks when a person experienced a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities and had a majority of specified symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, or self-worth. No exclusions were made for major depressive episode symptoms caused by medical illness, substance use disorders, or medication.”

Who is suffering from depression?

Research has shown the ruthless nature of depression during the pandemic spares no demographic. Depression can be present in varying degrees from children to senior citizens. Here’s a look at some figures from U.S. studies and surveys:

  • “During the pandemic, a larger than average share of young adults (ages 18-24) report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (56%). Additionally, adults in households with job loss or lower incomes report higher rates of symptoms of mental illness than those without job or income loss (53% vs. 32%)” (Source)
  • “A study found that 18% of individuals (including people with and without a past psychiatric diagnosis) who received a COVID-19 diagnosis were later diagnosed with a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or mood disorders” (Source)
  • “Throughout the pandemic, anxiety, depression, sleep disruptions, and thoughts of suicide have increased for many young adults.” (Source)
  • “A large share of young adults (ages 18-24) have reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder – 56% as of December 2020 – compared to older adults” (Source)
  • “A survey found that substance use and suicidal ideation are particularly pronounced for young adults, with 25% reporting they started or increased substance use during the pandemic and 26% reporting serious thoughts of suicide” (Source)
  • “An analysis of the psychological toll on health care providers during outbreaks found that psychological distress can last up to three years after an outbreak.”  (Source)

Contemporary treatments for depression

Many practices modified their treatments to video calls, emails, and even texts. For mental health and human service professionals, understanding the various forms of therapy and when to apply them can greatly improve outcomes.

If you're a mental health or human service professional looking to earn continuing education hours while learning contemporary treatments for depression, you may be interested in our home study programs featured below:

  • The Cognitive Distortion Starter Kit: Defeating Self-Critical Thoughts in Clients and Therapists

    7.25 CE Hours Available

    David Burns, M.D.

    In this workshop, you will learn how to select the most effective treatment methods based on the distortions in your clients’ (or your own) negative thoughts. Dr. Burns will present many case examples and role-play demonstrations to help you master powerful techniques that can boost your effectiveness in the treatment of patients struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-doubt.

    Do you sometimes beat up on yourself with self-critical thoughts? You will learn how to boost your own feelings of joy and self-acceptance as well. You will learn many methods to crush each of the ten familiar cognitive distortions, including Positive Reframing, Shades of Grey, Best/Worst/Average, Be Specific, the Externalization of Voices, Let’s Define Terms, the Socratic Technique, the Survey Technique, the Experimental Technique, Examine the Evidence, the Acceptance Paradox, the Feared Fantasy, and more!

  • Strategic and Experiential Approaches to Treating Depression

    9.75 CE Hours Available

    Michael Yapko Ph.D

    This course emphasizes the importance of using proactive and well-targeted interventions when treating depressed clients. These include the use of task assignments and focusing processes such as hypnosis and guided meditation.

  • Making Mindfulness Stick! The Neuroscience of Mindfulness and Compassion

    11.50 CE Hours Available

    Christopher Willard, Psy.D.

    Dr. Christopher Willard presents a two-day workshop for professionals interested in bringing mindfulness into their clinical practice. This practical workshop focuses on adapting mindfulness for individuals and groups, young and old, in therapeutic, educational, medical and other settings. Participants will explore the importance of their practice, starting or deepening their own mindful self-care as caregivers. Dr. Willard will also cover strategies for building mindfulness programs in larger systems and institutions. This workshop explores ways to adapt mindfulness to medical and mental health diagnoses, learning differences, cultural differences, and developmental differences. Dr. Willlard will discuss tailoring mindfulness techniques to a range of presenting issues, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, executive function challenges, addiction, impulse control difficulties, trauma and stress.

  • Unleashing the Power of DBT

    11.75 CE Hours Available

    Charles Swenson, MD

    DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) has proven effective in the treatment of adults and teens with a wide variety of clinical conditions that involve emotion dysregulation, including borderline personality disorder, PTSD, substance use disorders, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and others. Research suggests that the “active therapeutic ingredient” in DBT is skills training, such as skills for enhancing awareness, strengthening attention, regulating emotions, accepting painful realities, tolerating emotional crises, and developing stronger relationships.

    While skills are taught in groups according to the manual, getting clients to actually use them when they need them is a task of individual therapy and coaching. In this highly practical workshop, appropriate for experienced DBT practitioners and those without DBT training, Dr. Swenson will teach and demonstrate strategies for bringing DBT skills into therapy sessions, including ways to motivate the client, bring skills alive in compelling ways, and ensure generalization of skills to the client’s natural environment.

    He will teach and demonstrate how to build “mini-treatment plans” in sessions with a client, portable frameworks in which DBT skills serve as replacement behaviors for problematic thoughts, emotions, and actions. He will present a five-step protocol for coaching skills in brief interactions. Dr. Swenson will draw from his extensive clinical experience, using videotaped session segments that specifically demonstrate how to weave skills into sessions, and conducting role plays with willing audience members to illustrate the techniques. The most important DBT skills will be taught in the context of this advanced application workshop. Dr. Swenson will allow ample time to deal with specific questions from participants about how to incorporate DBT skills into their therapies.