One thing is sure about depression treatment: it’s not one-size-fits-all. And it never should be.
Although depression is a condition that affects more than 17 million adults in the U.S. each year, or just over 7 percent of people age 18 and older, depression treatment very often fails to take into account the individual’s priorities, preferences, and goals. We believe this can and should be remedied.
Ideally, upon diagnosis, a person living with depression (i.e., a patient) and supportive family members will meet with the clinician to discuss what depression is, what are the troubling symptoms, what are the goals of treatment, and what options for treatment fit with those goals. (Here, we focus on medication, recognizing that it is but one piece of the treatment puzzle. We do not in any way discount the value of talk therapy, exercise, adequate sleep, proper nutrition, meditation and mindfulness, and other interventions that are proven to support mental wellness.) The discussion involves the clinician learning what is important to the person. What symptoms are most difficult and how do they impact your life? What are you not able to do now that, with effective treatment, you want to be able to do again? What side effects are you concerned about?
The clinician (or healthcare provider) provides education and options to the patient (and, we hope, supportive family) and the patient chooses the treatment that best fits their needs and preferences. The provider is not telling the patient what to do but guiding them in a decision making process. This is shared decision making, an important component of patient-centered care. To catch up, here are a few of our earlier posts.
- Why You Deserve Shared Decision Making
- Shared Decision Making – with Families – Yields Better Treatment Outcomes
- Decision Aids Can Be Developed to Successfully Support Shared Decision Making in Clinical Encounters.
Over the next several weeks, Care for Your Mind will be posting perspectives on the roles of people living with depression, their supportive family members, and healthcare providers with regard to depression treatment. We aim to educate and equip people affected by depression to be advocates for the best – meaning most appropriate for that person – treatment available.
We will be covering issues like
- what you should know about depression to make informed decisions
- advocating for appropriate depression care from your primary care provider
- setting treatment goals and assessing progress
- maintaining wellness.
By the end of the series, we hope you’ll feel equipped to advocate for yourself or a loved one to get the treatment that best matches what you want to get out of it and what you’re willing to give up to get there.
What do you hope to learn from this upcoming series?
What positive – or negative – experiences have you had in tailoring your depression treatment to better address your preferences and priorities?
Editor’s Note: We thank the Takeda Lundbeck Alliance for supporting this work. No representative of either company was involved in development of the content.