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Viewing Depression Through a New Lens

Many people accept depression as natural or even earned.  But everyone deserves full access to their rich potential, which is why treating depression first starts with acknowledgement. Once acknowledged, the next step is searching out proper care for ailing self and loved ones.  

Careful diagnostics are necessary to identify the specific type of depression and what factors underlie it. Diagnosis drives treatment. We need root cause insight into why one is depressed.  Then a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan can be developed regardless of the cause, because there is always something constructive to be done to help.

In the case of major depression, medical assessment, psychodynamic interview, exploration of mental health history, and detailed psychiatric categorization combine to reveal sophisticated diagnostic conclusions. A thorough workup is productive. And a comprehensive treatment plan maximizes the likelihood for an optimal outcome.  

Orthodox, functional and holistic medical interventions often make a huge difference. Direct manipulation of brain chemistry by medicines – natural or synthetic or nutraceutical –  can be profound.  Various psychotherapeutic interventions can bring sizeable reward. A major facet of an inclusive strategy for managing depression is self-help and the nurturing of self-perception that emphasizes patient empowerment and health over passivity, powerlessness/valuelessness, and sick role. Healthy lifestyle also plays a key part in supporting optimal mental health. And an enriching doctor-patient relationship is a virtual prerequisite to push patient health forward.

Many Depressions, Many Treatments

There is depression like, “These hapless New York Knicks depress me.”  And there is depression like “I am ill, with overall dysfunction, and with loss of interest in things.”  This kind of depression can come wIth sadness, plus hopelesssness and worthlessness, with lethargy and apathy.  It can even come with changes in eating and sleeping or with suicidal thinking. Same word, two very different entities.  Different causes.

Depression can have many different root causes.  Once we determine the root cause, the treatment can be targeted and personalized.  Underlying causes include:

  • Bipolar disorder  
  • Various metabolic, neurological, immunological inflammatory and infectious diseases cause depression.  
  • Substance abuse is a prime culprit for depressive outcomes.
  • Traumas, catastrophes and maladaptations will fuel depressive reactions.
  • Environmental and interpersonal “toxins” feed depression.  
  • Certain Psychodynamic and personality features tilt one towards mood problems.  
  • A biochemical predisposition to depression  will result in episodic, seasonal, and chronic depressive states.  

Here’s the Great News: Depression Can Be Reversed

Sufferers with major depressive disorder and dysthymic disorder (chronic depression) alone represent the second most costly disease on planet Earth and number roughly one in seven of us! All forms of depression ruin lives and can be reversed. Major depression alone is a devastating illness but it is amenable to improvement.  Nothing works better than a comprehensive, integrative, game plan. Let’s make one for you.

 

Dr. Stephan J. Quentzel, MD, MA, is an Integrative Psychiatrist at Blum Center for Health.  In his practice, Dr. Quentzel sees teenagers and adults for the widest of psychiatric concerns. He integrates brain sciences and psychiatry with general medicine, psychopharmacology, psychology, philosophy, ecology, psychotherapies, preventive medicine, herbal pharmacotherapy and nutritional studies, self-help, lifestyle improvements,  and the healing strength of compassion,  all in pursuit of optimal broad health and happiness for each client, specific to their unique needs and interests.  Man an appointment with Dr. Quentzel at 914-652-7800.

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Improve Your Mood: Bringing Light to the Winter Blues

By Darcy McConnell, MD

Wintertime can be challenging for any of us, but especially for those with a tendency to become depressed or anxious.  The shorter days and colder weather invite a kind of hibernation that affects our mood.

Many people find that during this time they can become tense, stressed, anxious, worried, and fearful. It’s also common to feel depressed, low, and unable to cope. Sometimes, it’s a combination of both.

You might just feel “off” and can’t figure out quite why … or may have been prescribed medication and are not sure if it’s the right approach.

At Blum Center for Health, we like to treat these mood imbalances with some simple and healthy changes before prescribing, if possible, or together with medication.  Our goal is to bolster resilience during stressful times.  With heightened resilience, you are better able to tolerate stressors and find balance, calm, and peace.

Some tools that we use to improve our resilience are obvious – like getting enough sleep or avoiding unhealthy foods. Others are less intuitive, but do bring good results – supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals, and herbs are shown to improve mood imbalances.

5 Ways to Improve Resilience & Maintain a Balanced, Contented Mood:

  1. Hot drinks are lovely this time of year, but instead of sugary coffee, choose a caffeine-free calming tea with non-dairy milk and honey.
  2. Take an invigorating walk outside – bundle up! Even 30 minutes of activity can increase endorphins, naturally improving mood.
  3. Make it a habit to sit at a window in the morning with your breakfast – allow the morning light to hit your retinas and balance your circadian rhythm, especially now when sunlight is in short supply.
  4. Call upon a friend or relative and catch up, either by phone or even better in person!
  5. Take a vitamin D supplement every day in the winter months – and get your D checked to make sure it’s in a good range!

 

About Dr. McConnell: Dr. Darcy McConnell brings her broad expertise in prevention, mind-body medicine, and women’s health to Blum Center for Health, in Rye Brook, NY. She is board certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine, with postgraduate training from the Institute for Functional Medicine. Darcy lives with her husband and three sons and enjoys the outdoors, cooking healthy meals for her family and friends and is an enthusiastic yogi.