Carefully Listening To A Patient’s Story
Depression and anxiety are mental conditions that can occur unexpectedly. There is no typical presentation or initial signs and symptoms that proceed depression or anxiety. Understanding depression is very important for clinicians, family and friends, because it helps to understand where one is coming from and what factors played a role behind the development of one’s symptoms.
When we think of depression, we often relate it to something bad going on with the person, such as job loss, lack of friends, a failed marriage or substance abuse. But someone who develops depression does not necessarily have something going wrong with them. Often times, it’s members of their family who are suffering in some way, causing them to develop depression as a result.
For instance, a patient may have children who are suffering in some way or a spouse who is not supportive financially or as a parent. Many parents struggle when their children develop a mental illness, are born with a developmental disorder, are defiant and not doing well in school or simply leave “the nest” and go on to attend college. In these cases, it’s not unusual for a parent to develop adjustment disorder or major depressive disorder.
Some patients complain that their spouses are not financially supportive, “all he does is sit at home! I’ve told him countless times to get a job! This situation makes me so sad.” Marital problems are very common and oftentimes the cause behind the development of depression. It’s important to always listen very carefully to every detail provided by a patient.
Overall, understanding depression involves understanding a person’s story and their perspective on reality. Oftentimes, their stress and depressive symptoms have altered their perception on reality for the worse. During these cases, psychodynamic psychotherapy can prove to be an effective treatment, allowing the patient to unveil their unconscious conflicts.
Even if you’re not a clinician, you always want to listen attentively and attempt to understand depression based on what a person shares with you. Do not be interruptive or intrusive; listening often goes a long way in the treatment process.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)
2 Replies to “Understanding Depression”
“Overall, understanding depression involves understanding a person’s story and their perspective on reality.” I think you hit the nail on the head here. And how few people (even those who work in the helping professions) really take the time, and have the real desire to achieve this. Your patients are lucky to have you as their doctor 🙂
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Thank you! Much appreciated. Yes, I’m sure there are many physicians who forget that the patient comes first, and do not take the time to really hear out a patient. That can be the difference between a patient who recovers and one who doesn’t.
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