December 16, 2016 – Treating Depression


Anchor lead: What can be done for depression that’s difficult to treat? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Depression can be resistant to treatment, but not impossible.  That’s the hopeful message of a new book by Dean MacKinnon, a psychiatrist and depression expert at Johns Hopkins.  MacKinnon says a multifaceted approach is necessary.

MacKinnon: It really does take a thorough evaluation of the patient, not just a checklist diagnosis, but asking more questions about how the depression occurs in a context, what are the really fine differences between the symptoms a person has.  For example I might see a patient who complains of insomnia, they can’t fall asleep until four in the morning. If you leave it at that then it sounds like they have a symptom of depression but then if you say well what time are you getting up in the morning? Noon. Well, that’s eight hours, you’re not sleep deprived you need to adjust your sleep schedule. So that might be checked off as a symptom of depression if you just stop at insomnia.  :31

MacKinnon says busy primary care physicians may not have the time to examine the nuances of someone’s symptoms nor try different medications, so seeking expert help is the best choice for someone whose depression persists.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.