I found an interesting chart this week. It captures visually a complication mental health professionals face when treating depression: the huge range of symptoms depressed people experience.

The chart is the work of a group of researchers who compared seven rating scales commonly used in depression research. Altogether, the scales listed 52 symptoms. Just seven of those showed up on all seven scales.

My takeaway? Depression looks different for everyone.  That means depression treatment should look different for everyone, too.

With that in mind, it’s not surprising handing a depressed person a bottle of antidepressants will only work about a third of the time. Care should be personal and come from a mental health specialist intimately familiar with the different drug options. Some drugs tend to work better for physical symptoms, others for cognitive symptoms, others for fluctuating moods, etc.

It concerns me when I hear of clinics scheduling 15 minute appointments. That amount of time is not enough to understand how depression is affecting each patient. We can’t just diagnose depression and then start throwing drugs at it. We have to study each patient’s symptoms and make thoughtful decisions.

If you suffer from depression, make sure you’re seeing someone who has the time and depth of knowledge to take care of your unique case. It can make a huge difference in your outcome.


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