The Depression and Mood Disorder Clinic at the Centre for Cognitive Therapy is equipped to accurately assess, diagnose and treat depression. Full computerized diagnostic assessment is available. Symptom scales are regularly used assess the severity of depression and to monitor treatment. The experienced staff are aware of the need for, and experienced in the use of objective measures to compliment their clinical work.
Where Cognitive Therapy comes in
Cognitive Therapy is at the forefront of treatment options for all forms of depression and is the treatment applied by the Depression and Mood Disorder Clinic. Many years of research has indicated that cognitive therapy is effective with depression and that treatment does not need to be long term and costly. Often depression can be treated in 10-15 sessions with cognitive therapy, although in more complicated cases, longer term treatment is recommended. For more severe forms of depression a combination of anti-depressants and cognitive therapy may be recommended. When anti-depressants are prescribed, combining antidepressant treatment with cognitive therapy has been shown to yield more effective, longer lasting results. The Depression and Mood Disorder Clinic often work closely with Family Practitioners and Psychiatrists when addressing medication needs.
It is not a sign of personal weakness and it cannot be simply be willed away. Most people with depression do not seek treatment. The economic cost is high, but the cost in human suffering is higher. Serious depression can destroy individuals, their family life and careers. Many feel helpless and hopeless and even ashamed of being depressed. However, much of the suffering associated with depression can be avoided. Today there are successful treatment options for depressive illnesses.
It is important that the nature of the depression be properly assessed and diagnosed. There are a variety of forms of depression. In some cases people feel down and blue in reaction to a significant life event, a reactive depression. In some cases, for example a grief reaction, this type of ‘depression’ is normal and only of clinical concern if prolonged. Some people experience chronic, low level symptoms of depression which do not keep one from functioning but seriously interfere with enjoying life or feeling good. This form of depression is termed dysthymia.
In other cases people go through episodes (longer than 2 weeks) where the depressed feelings and symptoms interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy once pleasurable activities. Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime. This form of depression is usually termed a major depressive disorder.
Some people suffer from depressive episodes that regularly occur at particular times of the year, usually beginning in the fall and winter. This type of depression is frequently referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is associated with substantially reduced energy, increased needs for sleep, over-eating, weight gain and carbohydrate craving. The likelihood of experiencing SAD tends to rise in more northerly climates where there is less light available in later fall and winter. It is thought that well controlled and intense exposure to daily light in the morning can help those suffering from SAD.
A much less frequently occurring form of depressive illness is characterized by cycling mood changes: severe highs (mania) and lows (depression). Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. When in the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of a depressive disorder. When in the manic cycle, the individual may be overactive, over-talkative, and have a great deal of energy. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated, full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. This form of illness is often termed bipolar illness.
Cognitive therapy has been demonstrated in many outcome studies as an effective form of treatment for most forms of depression, either alone or in combination with medication. It is problem oriented, collaborative and tends to be relatively short term. In January, 2003, Time magazine commented that cognitive therapy is “quick, practical and goal-oriented”. Today, Cognitive Therapy is one of the few non-medication approaches to depression that has been repeatedly found effective in controlled outcome studies. At the Centre for Cognitive Therapy, there is a recognition and understanding of the complex relationship between biological factors, behavioral patterns, cognitive sets and all forms of depression. Cognitive therapists at the Centre for Cognitive Therapy work closely with physicians when medication or other lifestyle factors are an important part of the over-all treatment plan.