News

Connections Winter 2018

World of Hurt

Those headaches you’re experiencing? That nagging pain in joints, back, and neck? The loss of appetite and inability to sleep? From mind to body to daily life, depression leaves its mark.

It isn’t “all in your head,” and you’re not imagining things—but unless you’ve considered how these very real symptoms relate to depression, you may not be properly addressing the problem, even if you’ve seen a doctor.

Depression is an illness of the body as much as the brain—and it’s a connection that has everything to do with your brain’s levels of serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemical neurotransmitters govern functions ranging from analytical thinking, memory and emotional stability, to digestion, sleep cycles and sex drive. When they’re out of balance, your head can easily convince the rest of your body that something, somewhere, is painfully wrong.

These “presenting symptoms”— gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, inability to concentrate—have an even more profound effect on an individual’s work, school, and personal relationships. Left untreated, depression-related symptoms can exact a toll on a person’s job, marriage, and ability to function in basic social situations. In some extreme cases, what’s “in your head” can lead to serious eating disorders and other life-threatening problems.

Respected entities like the World Health Organization have identified correlations between depression and overall physical well-being including a measurable impact on certain chronic diseases. The key is to be honest and seek the kind of help that gets to the heart of the problem. Talk to a healthcare professional if you are concerned that symptoms you are experiencing are related to depression.

Beyond the Clouds

If you’re someone who suffers from depression, it can feel as if you’re being shadowed by a cloud.

Just as a cloud can take the shape more important to know that there is real help…and there is hope in knowing that depression doesn’t have to control your life. Signs of depression can be as varied, and as personalized, as what we see in the drifting clouds. One person might be so anxious and restless as to experience insomnia, while another can become so lethargic that they’re unable to get out of bed. The slightest thing could send some people into an irritable rage, even as others feel so “empty” as to not show any emotional response. Loss of appetite or binge eating, chronic lack of energy or manic lack of focus —each of these exists on the of many things to many people, depression takes many forms, from functional maladies to debilitating illnesses. But within that cloud cover of depression, there exists a silver lining—and seeking treatment can be the key to finding it.

Maybe you’ve experienced a shift in your mood lately. A change in the way you eat, sleep, or go about your day-to-day routine. A noticeable difference in weight, or a feeling that everything is weighing heavily upon you. It’s important to know that you are not alone; that there are others who feel the way you do. It’s even more important to know that there is real help…and there is hope in knowing that depression doesn’t have to control your life.

Signs of depression can be as varied, and as personalized, as what we see in the drifting clouds. One person might be so anxious and restless as to experience insomnia, while another can become so lethargic that they’re unable to get out of bed. The slightest thing could send some people into an irritable rage, even as others feel so “empty” as to not show any emotional response. Loss of appetite or binge eating, chronic lack of energy or manic lack of focus —each of these exist on the continuum of depression, and none of us are immune from experiencing these symptoms to some degree. The fact is, you can start to feel better by talking to a healthcare provider. Just by taking that step, you’re working to take back control, and connecting with the things you need to get on the path to a more balanced and fulfilling life.

It’s estimated that 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression—and nearly 7 percent of adult Americans have experienced at least one major depressive episode. No matter who you are, depression can decimate the balance of mental and physical wellbeing; in many cases enhancing symptoms of existing illnesses, and increasing vulnerability to additional ailments.

Just as signs and symptoms of depression vary, so do treatment options. Seasonal Affective Disorder (see end of article) and Dysthymia (persistent mild depression) can often be treated with commonly prescribed antidepressants, while psychotic depression and severe Bipolar Disorder can be treated safely and effectively with Electroconvulsive Therapy. Individuals on any point of the depression spectrum can benefit greatly from talk therapy, as well as therapies that incorporate music, art, movement, animals, and horticulture.

Carrier Clinic’s expert, compassionate practitioners are trained to find the right treatment for each person. To see past the clouds of depression, we need patience; cloudy skies cannot be made clear in an instant. Have confidence and trust in the experts who can offer the help
you need.

Learn More About Treatment Options

Learn more about our different treatment options…and know that you can find that blue sky beyond the clouds.

Carrier Clinic also offers FREE, confidential anxiety/depression screenings.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ANXIETY/DEPRESSION SCREENINGS

Seeds of Hope

Patients reap the benefits of Horticultural Therapy at Carrier Clinic.

Its roots run as deep as the research done by Benjamin Rush, 19th-century father of modern psychology—and its documented benefits have borne fruit well into the new century’s embrace of what were once regarded as “alternative” methodologies.

Since the early days of Carrier Clinic and its working on-site farm, the Carrier Clinic team has recognized the therapeutic role of getting “hands-on” with the natural world. And, as the countryside around our Belle Mead, NJ campus prepares for spring’s arrival, a new Horticultural Therapy initiative heralds an enhanced commitment to our multi-faceted treatment program.

A recent generous donation to this initiative has allowed us the flexibility to bring the “great outdoors” directly to the patients who benefit from the exposure—through use of a mobile cart. It’s a great introduction to a program with a long-range goal of an on-campus greenhouse—a permanent structure that will allow us to extend our successful outdoor
garden projects year-round.

Regardless of whether or not an individual is an experienced “green thumb” gardener, horticulture offers an opportunity to reward their hard work, dedication, and patience with the pride and confidence that stem from learning new skills, working as part of a team, and enjoying the results of a job well done. The many benefits of Horticultural Therapy range from the healthful effects of time spent in outdoor activity, to the social and functional positives of nurturing a seed into a beautiful ower or nourishing food plant.

Donate to the Horticultural Therapy Program

Want to find out more about how you can help the campaign to bring the Horticultural Therapy program to full fruition?

DONATE NOW

Carrier Profile

Dr. Umesh S. Mehta, Chief Medical Officer

Having recently completed his first year as Chief Medical Officer at Carrier Clinic, a position he previously held on an interim basis, Umesh S. Mehta marks his 25th year on the Carrier Clinic staff in 2018—more than 20 of them as the director of the Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) program.

Educated in his native India and the UK, the board-certified psychiatrist and neurologist came to the U.S. in 1985 to complete his training. Arriving at Carrier Clinic as a specialist in geriatric psychiatry, he was intrigued by the opportunity to work with ECT treatment, a therapy employed at the clinic since 1955.

As ECT director, Dr. Mehta oversees a team that includes Associate Medical Director Dr. Shailajah K. Shah, as well as staff psychiatrists and several RNs who are fully trained in the procedure. Administered on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, ECT treatment is praised by Mehta as “the most powerful, fastest working treatment for people with severe depression.”

Correcting a common misperception, Dr. Mehta observes that “ECT doesn’t have to be the last step in the process…it’s quick, effective, and at times it can carry less risk than psychotropic medications.”

What is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)?

First employed in the late 1930s—but not to be confused with the harsher “shock treatments” of decades past—Electroconvulsive Therapy uses smaller electric currents to trigger brief seizures in the brain; “resetting” brain chemistry and effectively reversing symptoms. ECT treatment is a safe, effective and humane treatment for such severe mental disorders as psychotic depression, Bipolar Disorder, catatonia, aggressive dementia, and treatment-resistant Schizophrenia. It is typically administered three times per week to patients under general anesthesia.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR ECT PROGRAM

Spring Ahead of Seasonal Depression

20% of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). While winter’s longer days can disrupt your appetite, sleep, and overall mood, there’s no need to wait for spring to feel better!

  • STAY ACTIVE! Walk, do yoga, play fetch with a dog…or shovel snow!
  • STEP INTO THE LIGHT! Consult with your doctor to see if purchasing an effective and safe phototherapy device is right for you.
  • EAT FOR SPRING! Sweet and starchy foods can affect your mood and energy level. Eat foods high in protein and fiber instead.
  • TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR! If you’re experiencing symptoms of SAD, talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional today.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SEASONAL DEPRESSION

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