Dont Let Your Hopelessness Lead To Mood Disorder

Theres depression, and then theres double depression.

Sound bad" It is, as per Thomas Joiner, Florida State University Distinguished Research Professor and the Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology, who has identified hopelessness as a distinguishing feature of double depression in a new paper reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The finding could help therapists diagnose and treat the mood disorder.

Double depression occurs when an individual who suffers from dysthymia, a persistent case of mild depression marked by low energy, falls into a major depressive state. It is not a new concept, but psychology experts know little about the characteristics that distinguish double depression from dysthymia or major depression alone, as per Joiner.

Its clinically important because it is under-recognized and harder to treat than either dysthymia or major depression by themselves, Joiner said. The hopelessness result is significant, and it suggests that therapists should particularly focus on this feature early and often in the therapy of double-depressed patients.

Joiner, along with FSU doctoral student Kathryn Gordon, Joan Cook from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia and Michel Herson from Pacific University in Oregon, studied the psychological assessments of 54 adults who entered a community-based psychiatric outpatient facility for non-psychotic adults ages 55 and older. Questionnaires were given to patients before starting therapy to measure depression, hopelessness, anxiety and their sense of control over their own lives.

They observed that double-depressed patients had high levels of hopelessness, whereas patients with either major depression or dysthymia alone showed more moderate levels of hopelessness.

A patient who is hopeless has really just given up, Joiner said. They feel that the world is against them, the future is bleak and they are incapable of fighting back.

This entrenched sense of hopelessness is one likely reason why double depression is so hard to treat, as per Joiner. The chronic nature of the underlying dysthymia is another.

Any chronic condition is harder to treat than a less chronic one, and that is true for medical and psychiatric conditions alike, he said. Second, people with dysthymia come to view depression as just part of who they are, and so they dont come in to therapy as often, even when they dip down into a major depression. When they do come in, issues of motivation to do the therapy are common.

In addition to differences in the level of hopelessness, the scientists observed that people with dysthymia alone and those with double depression felt little control over their own lives. People with these conditions felt that external forces -- other people or fate -- determined their future. Those suffering from major depression alone did not have this characteristic.

Joiner cautioned that the studys findings must be interpreted in light of the studys limitations, namely its small sample size. Still, the results could have important implications for therapy of double depression. Cognitive treatment, which focuses on changing negative thinking patterns, and antidepressant drugs are especially helpful in treating symptoms of hopelessness and perceptions of a lack of control over ones own life, he said.


Anonymous said…
Women who take oral contraceptives are highly vulnerable to depression. As per a recent study, women who take oral contraceptives are twice as likely to develop depression as compared to those women who do not take oral contraceptives. Almost all the antidepressants, like xanax have side-effects. And depression can be said to be a side-effect of the oral contraceptive pills.

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