When someone is suffering from depression, a family member is often called upon to help make important treatment decisions. In the midst of a major depression, your loved one may be too disturbed to make practical decisions about his or her care.
One of the most important decisions to make is the selection of the right depression treatment center to meet your loved one’s needs. During the screening process, we recommend that you ask the following questions to potential providers:
1. Is the program individualized?
No one wants a cookie-cutter approach to a loved one’s care. For depression treatment, one size does not fit all. Varying levels of care and types of treatment modalities should be available. Individuals with imminent suicidal risk may require inpatient care, while others may be treated on an outpatient basis. Some patients may respond well to counseling, while others may also need antidepressant medications. The availability of a full treatment menu, with an individualized approach to care, is critical to finding the best treatment options for your loved one.
2. How involved are the patient and family?
Effective treatment programs tend to be ones that actively engage the patient and family in the assessment, planning, and treatment process. Terms like “person-centered” and “family involvement” mean that a center understands the importance of including everyone in the process – not just the professionals. Even though they are troubled, patients with depression can contribute to an understanding of their illness and are better motivate if they are actively involved in treatment. Family members can learn ways to better support a loved one coping with a depressive disorder, and they can also benefit from support for their own concerns and frustrations.
3. What are the staff qualifications?
A professional’s best treatment tools come from a combination of training and experience. Check the credentials of professional staff on your loved one’s treatment team. Generally, you should look for clinical staff to have licensure in a professional field such as psychiatry, psychology, social work, marriage and family therapy, or counseling.
4. What types of counseling and therapy are provided?
When most lay people think about psychology, the first name that comes to mind is Sigmund Freud. While he may have been a pioneer in the treatment of mental disorders, counseling and therapy have come a long way in the past century. Many counseling techniques developed in the last few decades are designed to work with the negative feelings and self-defeating individuals with depression often have. Current therapeutic approaches considered the most effective with depression include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT);
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT);
- Insight oriented therapy (IOT).
Beware of any provider that considers medication to be the sole method for treating a loved one’s depression. While modern antidepressants can have a very beneficial effect upon resistant depression, treatment should usually include other modalities such as counseling, training, or peer supports.
5. What is the program’s overall treatment philosophy?
A treatment center should have a clear philosophy about appropriate treatment. In discussing a program’s treatment approach, listen for terms such as the following:
- Person-centered or patient-centered planning and care (see above);
- Family involvement (see above);
- Symptom management – provides patients with tools to help manage their own feelings and behaviors;
- Least restrictive environment – provides the least intensive level of treatment necessary, while respecting the patient’s freedom;
- Wellness and recovery – focuses on a total wellness approach to healthy living and a belief that recovery is possible.
Getting the right answers to the above questions can be a productive step in setting your own loved one on a journey to recovery.