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Learn about Different Types of Depression Therapy

Whether for a first depressive episode, a recent tragedy that has triggered a relapse, or a more persistent depression, many individuals are interested in learning more about the different types of depression therapy and which ones are the best fit for them. We can’t recommend a therapy for individuals. That’s what doctors and mental health professionals are for, but we can provide information about popular therapies and how they work to reduce the symptoms of depression.

Antidepressants vs Placebos

More formally known as pharmacotherapy, antidepressants are one of the most common treatments for depression. Most of these medications are believed to work by increasing the active level of neurotransmitters in the brain by inhibiting the absorption or reuptake of these neurotransmitters. These medications are generally classified by the neurotransmitter they act on: serotonin, norepinephrine, monoamine, and/or dopamine. That said, it is not well understood how this mechanism helps alleviate the symptoms of depression. There is even a substantial segment of the scientific community which believes that this depression therapy works mostly, or entirely, through placebo effects. It could be that perceivable changes in the brain and the drugs’ side effects enhance the client’s expectation of improvement and explain why some studies show antidepressants have a slightly larger treatment effect for antidepressants than placebos.

Moreover, in about half of cases, placebos have a therapeutic effect on depression without the side effects of antidepressants. Some studies suggest that, for mild and moderate cases of depression, there is no difference in effect size between antidepressants and placebos.

Talk and Cognitive Therapies

This type of depression therapy is attempting to break a pattern of thinking that may be contributing to the depressed mood and other symptoms. In cases where there is a precipitating event that triggered the depression, talk therapy often involves grief counseling or other counseling relevant to the specific stressor. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also involve pointing out thoughts that are inconsistent, exaggerated, or distorted.

While talk therapy sessions may involve a sudden break-through, the repeated recognition of these maladaptive thought patterns may be even more important. Yet, by learning effective strategies for monitoring one’s own thoughts, these thinking patterns can be broken more effectively and on a more consistent basis.

Physical and Behavioral Therapies

It’s telling that certain physical signs may also be symptoms of depression. A change in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns are some of the most common symptoms. But so, too, are headaches, body fatigue, and stomach pain. By making behavioral changes or engaging in physical therapy, these physical symptoms can be alleviated, and the individual’s mood is often—though not always—lifted. This might include exercise, a change in posture, or other physical activity designed for this treatment purpose. Alternately, behavioral therapy might also include non-physical activities such as social interaction, interpersonal communication, and other actions that might have therapeutic value.

Just because exercise or posture can lead to improvement in depressed individuals doesn’t mean that individual suddenly has an “easy fix” for depression. Meeting with a mental health professional can improve the effects of these behavioral changes and reinforce a motivational attitude toward these therapeutic behaviors.

Neurological Therapies

These include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These neurological depression therapies are typically only recommended for individuals with severe, persistent depression and who do not respond to other depression therapies. These treatments are usually effective but also temporary (around 6 months on average). They carry a cost, too, as individuals frequently experience some level of memory loss as a side effect. The big advantage of ECT is that its effectiveness and side effects are more established. The big advantage of TMS is that it’s perceived as less invasive and can be completed in an outpatient setting.

Inpatient Treatment and Residential Therapy Programs

For individuals who experience severe and acute depression symptoms especially suicide ideation, these depression therapy programs are designed to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others, while sustained depression treatment is provided. Both these intensive treatment programs involve some number of overnight stays. Basic inpatient treatment usually involves a few days of observation and treatment in a hospital setting. You can find a list of medical centers in Utah with a behavioral health unit.  hospital with a behavioral health center. Residential programs usually involve longer stays and a more involved treatment schedule.

Depression Therapy and Guided Treatment

Keep in mind that a depression therapy is often combined with other therapies in a personalized treatment plan. Rather than a hodge-podge approach, the best outcomes generally result from guided treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular approaches and seeks to rapidly leverage and integrate the benefits of both cognitive and behavior therapies. No matter what therapy is right for you, don’t wait to get help from a mental health provider for a serious case of depression.

Get More from Your Yoga Therapy in Utah

Yoga therapy is a catch-all phrase for yoga classes that are taken to achieve therapeutic goals. The term can just as easily be used to discuss the benefits of yoga for recovering from a physical injury, medical procedure, or mental disorder. In fact, the precise cause isn’t always known. For example, yoga can be a great way to improve your gastro-intestinal health, whether your stomach hurts because of a poor diet, anxiety disorder, or some combination of factors.

Yoga as Supplemental Therapy

This doesn’t mean that yoga therapy is a cure-all. If you suspect you have a serious medical condition, don’t hesitate to talk to a physician. If you suspect you have a serious mental health condition, we strongly urge you to seek the counsel of a qualified mental health therapist. These health professionals can help you understand the underlying cause of your pain and discomfort, as well as make an evaluation of yoga’s potential benefit. When yoga is included as part of a larger treatment plan for a health condition—medical or mental health—it’s often referred to as an adjunct or supplemental therapy.

Meditation vs. Mindfulness

Here’s a great example of how a mental health therapist can help you get more from your yoga therapy. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you may have noticed that the instructor ended the session with a meditation, known as savasana. Often, though not always, this meditation is guided by the instructor’s voice. Guided meditation has its own mental health benefits, but the practice of silent mindfulness holds even more promise for many people and their mental health.

Simply put, mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and the non-judgmental observance of one’s conscious thoughts. Talking to a therapist, however, can help improve your practice of mindfulness, while also putting this cognitive therapy in the more personal context of your own mental health troubles. A therapist can also help you evaluate the immediate benefits and long-term potential of yoga therapy for you.

Many yoga studios offer some combination of the two, by including a short, guided meditation at the beginning of the savasana, followed by plenty of time to enjoy the peaceful quiet of the studio space. That said, while some people find that the end of yoga is the absolute best time to engage in the practice of mindfulness, others prefer to alternate between a yoga studio session one day and a mindfulness meditation in their own home the next day.

At-Home Yoga vs. Studio-Based Therapy

To get the most out of yoga therapy, you should really find a studio and instructor who you can connect with. That said, this is one of those situations in which a studio class is better than yoga at the house—which is itself a lot better than nothing. And, at home, it’s free. And close. And it works around your schedule. Thus, we recommend getting out to the studio whenever you can but maintaining a regular yoga habit at home whenever you need. The popularity of this mix-and-match strategy also helps explain why there’s such a heavy incentive for studios to market unlimited monthly passes and punch card discounts. This can make studio yoga more affordable, while making it harder to accommodate scheduling uncertainty.

Preventative and Proactive Yoga Therapy

From chronic back pain to mood disorders, many symptoms can be strictly controlled or prevented altogether by maintaining a healthy yoga habit. Further, you can proactively build up your psychological resilience for any stress or trauma you may face down the road. Likewise, many people who effectively treat their mental health troubles end up drifting away from the practice, only to experience a relapse of symptoms.

Now, not everybody needs to see a mental health therapist before signing up for classes. Not all yoga is yoga therapy, but if you are looking to yoga to help with your psychological distress, you’re going to get the most of classes by consulting with a mental health therapist.

Types of Anxiety in Utah Beyond Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is universal to the human condition, and it’s a major symptom in many types of mental illness beyond just anxiety disorders. As our understanding of human behavior has grown increasingly nuanced, trauma, obsessive-compulsive, and eating disorders are now considered separate from anxiety disorders. Yet, anxiety is one of the most dominant and easily recognizable symptoms associated with these mental disorders. By understanding how different types of anxiety are likely to interact with other aspects of your mental health, you can learn how to better manage your anxiety level.

Anxiety and PTSD

The constant expectation of an explosion, a car collision, a gunshot, a blow to the head, or the loss of a loved one can send almost anybody’s anxiety levels off the charts. And yet, in the grips of PTSD, it may be difficult to even register the source of one’s anxiety. Instead, the physical symptoms—the stomach pains, headaches, joint and muscle stiffness, general fatigue—may dominate the attention of those afflicted with post-traumatic stress.

Left untreated, individuals may become so dissociated with the present moment that they act on their fears, and with dangerous consequences. The behaviors that are possible under this type of stress may result in shame which then exacerbates the individual’s psychological distress. The good news is that there are effective treatments for PTSD. Often, the biggest deciding factor is recognizing and seeking therapy in a timely fashion.

Anxiety and Eating Disorders

The most obvious connection between anxiety and eating disorders is the intense anxiety and fear of gaining weight that’s felt by those with anorexia. Utah is for from unique in this regard, but striving for perfection and an expectation to conform with cultural norms are a big part of the state’s culture. The act of self-starvation, binge-eating, and/or purging behaviors make these disorders relatively easy to distinguish from other types of anxiety.

On the other hand, that’s assuming the individual isn’t successful in hiding their eating disorder. The things we do to avoid anxiety often lead to intense feelings of shame after the fact. This can make even otherwise “open-and-honest” people reticent to talk about their problems and to seek help from a professional.

It’s also revealing that, by a large margin, more women than men suffering from eating disorders. On this point, many mental health professionals point to the fact that culture puts more pressure on women than men to internalize their negative emotions. Thus, a lot of men with anxiety become violent and end up in the criminal justice system. Men are also more likely to fall victim to substance abuse.

Anxiety and OCD

Rather than feeling anxious about being exposed to potential threats, obsessive-compulsive disorder tends to make a person feel anxious about NOT engaging in a specific—and often highly ritualized—behavior. Thus, much like eating disorders, OCD is most likely experienced and diagnosed not by the constant presence of anxiety, but rather by the behaviors that are used to avoid anxiety. And, again, by the shame that results from compulsively engaging in these behaviors.

Many types of compulsions, though certainly not all of them, take on a religious meaning. Hand-washing and praying (or chanting) are among the most common types of compulsions. These behaviors can be particularly torturous for members of the LDS faith, as well as other individuals with highly religious backgrounds.

Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Abuse

Anxiety and depression are more like cousins in the larger family known as mood disorders. The relationship between these two moods is multi-faceted and can take on a variety of behavioral expressions. At Mountain Mental Health, we like to talk about the difference anxious depression and depressive anxiety. We encourage you to read more about the relationship between anxiety and depression.

Anxiety and substance abuse paint a similarly muddled picture. With chronic substance abuse and/or when the drug abuse starts at an early age, it may be essentially impossible to determine whether an underling anxiety disorder was present before the substance addiction.

How to Get Help for All Types of Anxiety

Everybody experiences anxiety. It helps motivate us and focus our attention. It heightens our senses and enables us to better respond to potential threats. It activates our imagination and problem-solving. Just because anxious feelings are unpleasant in the short-term doesn’t mean that the individual has a serious mental health condition. And yet, anxiety can become persistent to the point where worry and fear are nearly constant. But here’s the thing: This doesn’t mean you’re helpless, either. Even if you can’t control your anxiety, you can still control whether you ask for help. It’s never too early to get help for psychological distress. Talk to an experienced Utah therapist about your troubles, and discover that improvement is possible.

Remote Therapy vs. Office Therapy in Utah: What’s Best for Your Mental Health?

Also known as virtual therapy, e-therapy, or online therapy, remote therapy is becomingly increasingly popular and widely available. In addition to nationwide “e-therapy” companies, many therapists in Utah offer this type of therapy service to prospective clients. Starting with cost, there are number of reasons why people tend to seek out this type of therapy arrangement.

First and foremost, a lot of people want to know—all things being equal—is remote therapy just as good as a face-to-face office setting? So far, the research confirms that it’s better than nothing and very cost-efficient as well. There is also research to suggest that online therapy may be just as good as office therapy, but the jury is still out. In fact, this area of study is so new there’s still hot debate over how mental health researchers should design their experimental studies to compare effect sizes. Simply accounting for differences in audio/video quality and the reliability of Internet connections is problematic.

Remote therapy was already growing in popularity before 2020, but among the big changes this year has been increased use of hybrid solutions in which you work with a local therapist in Utah but also conduct sessions remotely as mutually agreed to. One of the big barriers to maintaining a mental health therapy schedule is the time commitment. But rather than use nationwide therapy services that are entirely online, you can get the best of both worlds.

Individual Factors in Choosing Remote Therapy

Even though everybody knows better, it’s still easy to think that our mental health is somehow separate from where we live and what financial resources we have at our disposal. Talking to a qualified therapist in an office setting might mean a drive of several hours for people in places like Snowville or Garrison or Blanding. Even people much closer to the I-5 corridor may have considerable challenges in commuting to an office location.

One way to think of the potential value of remote therapy is the client’s own attitude about the approach:

  • If an individual doubts that any therapy is worth the trouble, seeks out remote therapy because it’s easy, and then doesn’t take the process seriously, this is a largely self-defeating attitude. A therapist may try to overcome this initial resistance, but if it’s surmised that the online nature of the therapy is a barrier to improvement, you can expect the therapist to make a different recommendation.
  • People who live in distant rural areas or who otherwise have trouble accessing therapy services may be thrilled to discover they have some way to talk to a qualified mental health professional, be it on a short-term or ongoing basis. In fact, the relief and hope tends to produce its own short-term improvement to mental health, an improvement that ideally can be built upon during future sessions.

The irony is that many of the same people who are most likely to benefit from remote therapy services are less likely to have the hardware and broadband Internet connection necessary for the best virtual therapy settings. On the other hand, for some people, remote vs. office-based therapy is a false choice. Some therapists offer in-home therapy. Often, the availability of these services is based on individual circumstances and living within certain geographical boundaries.

Comfort-Level and Confidentiality

In terms of confidentiality, there are pros and cons to both types of therapy. By visiting an office, you do run at least some risk of someone seeing you go into the building. Yet, remote therapy creates an entirely different kind of risk. HIPAA laws require mental health professionals to take all reasonable and standard precautions in safeguarding their clients’ confidentiality. The thing is nobody really knows yet what this means for online security measures.

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of people have nothing to worry about when it comes to online therapy. So long as you take basic privacy precautions, the people and organizations with the technological sophistication to hack these types of video feeds are generally interested in things other than, say, a stranger’s marital strife. But if confidentiality—especially the content of what you have to say—is a top concern, this is something to think about.

Combining Remote and Office Therapy

Again, the best solution is often a combination or remote and in-office therapy. These arrangements may simply help manage the limited availability and travel schedules for either the therapist or the client. Some therapists also permit their clients to contact them during off-hours under certain circumstances. Remote therapy is filling this niche, too. Short impromptu online therapy may supplement a regular office therapy schedule. Though rare, some therapists may even use remote communications as an introduction to therapy for clients who have trouble leaving their home or engaging in basic social activities. The idea, then, is to graduate to in-office sessions and eventually greater exposure to social settings in general.

No matter what mode of therapy you think may be right for you, no matter what mental health challenge you’re facing, we encourage and commend you for reaching out to a mental health provider in Utah.

Learn about the Three Major Types of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a mental disorder in which an individual bounces back and forth between depressive episodes and periods of elevated mood or mania. The individual course of the disorder can be quite varied and unpredictable. Bipolar episodes can last only a few days or persist for several months. The episodes can complete several cycles each year, or a single cycle can itself last several years.

Major Types of Bipolar Depression

In parsing out the different types of bipolar depression, it’s often the severity of each mood that is the primary consideration:

  • Type-1 Bipolar (with hypermania): This type involves a more extreme version of mania, sometimes called hypermania, that generally lasts between one week and a few months. For these individuals, the mania is marked by high energy, racing thoughts and speech, an inflated sense of self, reduced need for sleep, and reckless behavior. These individuals may be drawn into goal-oriented activities, but they may also be easily distracted. Moreover, an elevated mood does not guarantee a personable attitude, as the person is also more likely to be irritable.
  • Type-2 Bipolar (with hypomania): This course of bipolar disorder is defined by hypomania. Hypomania has all the same general traits as hypermania, just not as severe. Typically, the severity is determined by looking at the occupational and social disruption that is caused, but there are other factors as well. If the inflated sense of self or other symptoms lead to delusions or other signs of psychosis, for example, it’s automatically considered full-blown mania. Moreover, hypomania may persist for as few as four days but may still last several months.
  • Cyclothymia: This type of bipolar depression is characterized by milder forms of both mania and depression—so mild, in fact, that they fail to meet the criteria for a manic or depressive episode. Yet, the swings between depressed and manic mood are frequent and persistent and cannot be explained by another condition or mental disorder. Individuals will go multiple years without experiencing a period of normal mood that lasts longer than two months.

Partial or Specified Diagnosis

Apart from these major categories of bipolar disorder, there are many ways to describe bipolar symptoms that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria. This may be due to something as simple as an insufficient history: A clinician may be able to flag short-duration mood swings or a manic episode that has not yet been accompanied by a depressive episode. These partial diagnoses frequently meet the full criteria later on but are still crucial for early therapy interventions and better outcomes overall.

Even when a full range of symptoms are present, the diagnosis must first consider whether they’ve been induced by substance use, medications, or a general medical condition. The mental health professional must also evaluate whether a different disorder (depression, ADHD, borderline personality) is a better fit for the presentation of symptoms. For complicated cases, a “rule-out” diagnosis may be noted when it’s not yet possible to distinguish between different disorders.

Get Help with Bipolar Depression in Utah

No matter what type of bipolar depression you may have—or even if your symptoms are not indicative of this mental disorder—it’s critical that you seek help for any serious signs of mental illness. Rather than trying to find answers on your own, work with a qualified mental health provider. This is the only way to know precisely what you’re facing and what treatment plan, if any, is likely to provide mental health benefits.

Art Therapy in Utah: A Collage of Mental Health Resources

The fundamentals of art therapy are much the same as other types of expressive therapies—an artistic medium is used to facilitate the expression of a psychological reality. This may be externalizing negative emotions and past events. It can also be depicting beauty, resilience, or other values that can serve as a buffer against psychological stress–all common themes with art therapy in Utah.

This doesn’t mean that every pretty picture is a perfect reflection of some deep personal truth. The simple act of making a meaningful picture has tremendous potential to lift and/or stabilize one’s mood. And that’s just the beginning of understanding what makes art therapy effective. For those who are struggling with psychological stress, troubling realities have a tendency to bubble up to the surface. For all these reasons, the art therapist, the prompt, and the person’s willingness to respond to that prompt can all be crucial elements for getting positive results.

Art Therapy Settings in Utah

One of the surest ways to parse out the different types of art therapy in Utah is to look at the settings in which the art is created. As well as some of specific therapeutic goals that are trying to be achieved—

  • Most of us were asked as school kids to draw a picture of our family. This school activity can be both therapy and an informal assessment tool. Childhood trauma comes in many different forms, but even generally supportive families may be made stronger by exploring the content of these depictions.
  • Group therapy is the most common mode for art therapy. Creating art with others helps provide affordable access to direct feedback from an art therapist. This includes residential treatment centers as well as intensive outpatient treatment programs, especially drug rehab. But it also includes mental health therapists in Utah who offer weekly or monthly art-inspired group therapy. Some of these classes are designed for specific types of mental health troubles. Others are geared more toward particular mediums and themes.
  • Art therapy can also be a homework assignment from a mental health professional in the context of individual therapy. Direct feedback doesn’t have to be immediate feedback. By responding to an artistic prompt and then bringing the artwork to your next appointment, you get that much more from your mental health therapy.

Art as an Evidence-Based Therapy

Even if it’s sometimes overhyped, neuroscience provides plenty of corroborating evidence for the therapeutic value of artistic expression. Art may be subjective, but expressive therapies stand up well to scientific scrutiny. Especially when it comes to specific mental health troubles. Looking for more research and support for art therapy as an effective mental health treatment? The American Art Therapy Association has a lot of great resources put together from mental health professionals who believe in the healing power of art.

Look at art therapy for post-traumatic stress as an example. The toll of past traumas can disrupt our neurological function to the point where the language center of our brain shuts down when remembering traumatic events or when triggered by specific sensory inputs. Much of the power that trauma holds over us is its namelessness. Moreover, left unchecked, post-traumatic stress robs us of our everyday joys. A rose, by any other name, is just as sweet. But if we can’t give it a name at all, we truly do miss out on much of the flower’s sweetness.

More than just PTSD, anyone who has repeatedly struggled to communicate their psychological stress is likely to benefit from art therapy in one form or another. We encourage you to explore which resource in Utah makes the most sense for you.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Hope in the Absence of Relief

As those who suffer from it know all too well, treatment-resistant depression is more than just depression that’s a little harder to treat. It’s often years of poor mood and lack of interest that persist despite multiple, concerted efforts to treat the disorder with a combination of psychotherapy, meds, and other treatment protocols.

There is no single story or experience that fits everybody with treatment-resistant depression, but there are some touchstones that are familiar to many of those who struggle with the disorder. In those rare times when individuals do find themselves caring about something, it might be some vague combination of anger and envy that’s felt toward the nearest person, or maybe it’s a resentment of those who have similar symptoms but who quickly and permanently respond to treatment, so-called “wannabe” depressives. But these feelings never last and what most often takes their place is a deeply ingrained sense that one’s life is not worth living.

Good and Bad Kinds of Psychoeducation

One of the first and most common ways in which depression is treated is with psychotherapy that includes a heavy dose of psychoeducation and mindfulness. By meeting with an experienced therapist, a client learns more about how depression acts on the thoughts and feelings of the individual. Obsessively thinking about depression, also known as rumination, can be one of the signs of the disorder. Recognizing the way in which depressed thoughts become obsessive and exploring ways to disrupt this cognitive pattern, also known as mindfulness, is an essential therapy method for a lot of depressed people.

Yet, this particular symptom of the depressed mind also helps explain why psychoeducation may, in some cases, actually deepen the depressed mood in someone with treatment-resistant depression. Once you’ve read about how neurotransmitters no longer seem to be the key to beating depression, once you’ve read about the lack of new neurons being created in the hippocampus, once you’ve read about depression as an insidious, slow-moving neurological infection, and determined that none of the theories of depression have helped, the last reservoirs of hope may be threatened.

Let’s Talk about a Revolution — and the Hype that Comes with it

Lithium for people with bipolar disorder, antipsychotics for schizophrenics, antidepressants and better ECT protocols. Perhaps in part because mental disorders have so many different potential causes, there is rarely such a thing as a universal cure for everybody who suffers from them. However, the success stories do tend to be dramatic with rapidly-occurring changes.

Today, the frontier of the next revolution seems to look toward neuroscience. PET scans and new MRI technologies are allowing mental health professionals to observe the functioning brain in much greater detail. The study of this brain-imaging data and the resulting research is commonly referred to as neuroscience. But here’s the thing: Neuroscience as it exists today has been severely over-hyped by its own marketing, in large part by a mental health industry that wants to be taken more seriously by the scientific and medical communities. Now that we mental health professionals have neuroscience, we can tell you that your problems are a real thing.

A Better Approach for Treatment-Resistant Depression

There are several problems with this attitude. For one thing, this messaging seemingly tries to persuade people to seek treatment at all costs, but doesn’t seem to be aware of the ways it may diminish the empowerment that comes with seeking therapy. Put another way, this message leads the average person to more readily adopt the view that they don’t need to talk to anyone about their problems, they just need to get their brain fixed. In truth, understanding treatment-resistant depression is almost always more complicated than that.

Also, neuroscience marketing also dramatically overstates our current understanding of the brain, its underlying mechanisms, and what they might mean for mental health therapy in general. For another thing, it makes it sound like neuroscience has “arrived.” There’s no doubt that brain-imaging technology and the study of neuroscience holds immense promise. Indeed, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. For many people with treatment-resistant depression, it’s not today’s treatment that offers hope, but tomorrow’s.

The day may come when people suffering from a chronic biological depression have access to an easy, effective treatment, while the people who suffer from situational depression must continue to go through a prolonged course of psychotherapy. Or maybe there’s a breakthrough that doesn’t make the news but which delivers life-changing results to you personally. There are clinical trials that produce dramatic results for a few, while offering some amount of relief to many others. There’s no telling what the future may hold. There is new and sustained research being conducted on treatment-resistant depression.

Hope and Bargaining with Your Life’s Value

Even individuals who struggle to believe their life has value may find a way to avoid suicide by bargaining with themselves about their situation. One of the most common examples is the presence of loved ones in their life. I could never do that to my mom. I could never leave my husband on his own like that. But not everybody has these loved ones in their life. And sometimes it’s hard not to think that ending their own long-standing agony shouldn’t be the bigger concern.

Recognizing that a personal mental health revolution may still be in stars is another way to protect that last threads of hope to which one may cling. Even when it feels like there’s nothing left for the individual to try on their own, there are hundreds of thousands of people across the world who are actively studying and experimenting with different mental health therapies.

The Importance of Documenting Treatment-Resistant Depression

The importance is so that you can be first in line for clinical trials and so that mental health professionals in Utah can match you with the most promising new treatments. Even as they have deepened your depression over the years, the repeated failure of depression treatments may still lay the groundwork for eventual success. Even if the chances aren’t as big as you would like, endless agony or suicide may turn out to be a false choice if you can keep finding a way to make it through another day.

How Does Equine Therapy Work?

There is no single answer to this question because there is no single kind of equine therapy. Equine, or horse, therapy is used to treat numerous physical and mental health issues. In nearly every case, a therapeutic bond forms between the horse and person, but what that bond entails really depends on the situation. Feeding, grooming, and any specialized care the horse may need is one common method for this therapy. So, too, is learning how to give various commands and putting the horse through his or her daily exercise. Finally, even when the horse can’t be ridden, the practice of saddling the horse may still be part of the program.

Why Horses?

Well, it doesn’t have to be horses. From dogs to dolphins to sheep, there are a number of different animal-assisted therapies. Fortunately, there’s really no need to throw a horse and, say, an alpaca into a double-blind study. Considerable effort is made to match different types of animals—as well as the specific horse—to the individual who is seeking therapy.

That said, there are specific advantages to using horses. First, horses are among the smartest animals out there. Their memory, in particular, make them imminently trainable, including the ability to obey complex commands. Their natural beauty, mannerisms, and unique care needs make the everyday experience incredibly rewarding.

Moreover, many of the horses need you just as much as you need them. There are more than 9 million horses in the U.S. for racing, showing, ranch and farm work, personal recreation, and a number of other activities. Inevitably, some of these horses are injured or fall ill and can no longer perform their previous work duties. Thus, many equine therapy centers, and the people who provide the horses’ care, are directly responsible for saving the lives of horses that might otherwise be euthanized.

What Type of Horse is Best for Equine Therapy?

From the Norwegian Fjord riding horse to miniature horses that people sometimes keep as pets, some breeds do tend to be better than others for therapy. That said, the most important factors tend to be size, temperament, and ride-ability. Even the horse’s personal history is taken into account, especially if there’s some type of common past between the horse and person. But just as often, a bond is forged by finding the differences that empower the horse and person to work together.

  • An injured horse that can’t be ridden at all and requires special care may be paired with someone who is struggling to recover from drug addiction, childhood abuse, or other mental health troubles where providing a nurturing environment to others can be invaluable in building resilience.
  • In contrast, someone with a physical disability may benefit from riding a horse with a stocky build, peaceful temperament, and clean gait. Feeding, grooming, and other aspects of the horse’s care may or may not be part of the therapy.
  • Other types of equine therapy are based almost solely on companionship and lifting people’s moods. And, on this point, a small pony galloping around the room and running up to people asking to be pet tends to be pretty effective.

Starting Equine Therapy in Utah

Some people go directly to one of Utah’s equine centers, but people with a serious mental illness frequently talk to a therapist or psychologist about their troubles and which types of therapy might work best in your case. That said, don’t hesitate to tell the mental health professional about your interest in horses, as these personal preferences may be a factor in making a referral. Likewise, know that equine therapy may be an adjunct therapy that is done in coordination with a larger treatment plan.

What People in Utah Should Know about Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia, also known as psychotic disorder, is a mental illness characterized by delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized thoughts, erratic speech, agitation, lack of facial expression and/or extreme apathy. Beyond the definition and a list of symptoms, however, there are several things to know about this disorder that can help you better respond to the symptoms and behaviors associated with schizophrenia in Utah.

Biological and Evolutionary Factors

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the idea that there’s a genetic component to schizophrenia, and family history is, indeed, a risk factor. But there’s also a further line of thought that suggests psychosis has been a part of the human race ever since there’s been a human race. What’s the evidence? Well, one thing particular to psychotic disorder is the stability of the prevalence rates. Ever since researchers have described, categorized, and measured the disorder, this prevalence has consistently hovered around an average of just under 1%.

And while animals have behavioral issues that mimic a wide range of mental disorders, language and social barriers make it difficult to even conceptualize what a clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia would look like in a dog or cat. Moreover, there are huge changes throughout the schizophrenic brain—including enlarged fluid-filled ventricles and glutamate receptor disruption—that suggest our unique brain development and social-linguistic capacities may be directly connected to the underlying causes of this mental illness. Some researchers have even begun to identify the specific genes that increase risk of schizophrenia.

It’s a cruel irony that the underlying nature and rates of schizophrenia may be a side effect of human’s unique capacity for language, while the subjective experience of the disorder disrupts the individual’s sense of social belonging. But it’s also something worth remembering when we feel tempted to condemn the individual who has little, if any, control over their thought patterns and sensory experience.

Environmental and Developmental Factors

There are many causes of schizophrenia, and genes alone do not determine the emergence of psychotic disorder. Especially when it occurs during childhood development, the presence of some exacerbating factor (virus, malnutrition, substance use, head injury, trauma) is thought to activate the potential for schizophrenia. Epigenetics—the interplay between genes and environment—still allows for a large amount of pure chance. So, while basic caregiving is enormously important in a child’s development, parents should avoid irrationally blaming themselves. Often, parents can “do everything right” and still have a child that develops psychosis.

Local, Cultural Factors in Utah

Even apart from these genetic and environmental factors, the schizophrenic mind is still, in some ways, a product of its culture. It’s one thing to know that psychotic disorder involves paranoia, delusions, and/or hallucinations. But these symptoms are also filled with content pulled from one’s everyday experience. Both LDS and non-LDS folk recognize the state’s unique religious, political, and cultural heritage. It’s not uncommon for someone’s paranoia to be fueled by some of Utah’s more extreme mistrust of civil authorities.

Alternately, one’s delusions and hallucinations that take on a religious symbolism that is particularly agonizing for the person and his or her loved ones. Schizophrenia can present with a range of symptoms. But for some, the experience is not unlike living out one’s dreams and nightmares in real life. And so, while an afflicted person may behave in ways that are extremely odd and/or offensive, we should imagine being judged by the content of our own dreams and nightmares before we start casting aspersions in return.

Think Someone in Utah has Schizophrenia?

Often, the early symptoms of schizophrenia—disorganized thoughts, erratic speech, anxiety and paranoia—may be difficult to distinguish from other mental disorders. Only a qualified mental health professional can make a clinical diagnosis. Yet, if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these disturbing and/or disruptive symptoms, it’s important to talk to a mental health provider as soon as possible.

Exploring Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Natural remedies for anxiety are actually a collection of very different therapies and treatment philosophies. And it’s not one-size-fits-all. People who are highly susceptible to hypnosis may have a natural remedy for anxiety that is uniquely effective for them. Desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) is most commonly used to treat anxiety associated with trauma and abuse. Or it could be something as simple as acupuncture working for one individual and not the next.

But there is also a lot of variance even within the same type of anxiety disorder. It’s easy to think someone with social anxiety wouldn’t do well with yoga classes—and many don’t—but it could also be that there’s something about yoga that doesn’t create the same pressure as other social settings to perform and interact with other people. Meanwhile, the body therapy and guided meditation offer a great salve for the toll social anxiety can take on the mind and body.

Body Therapies as a Natural Remedy for Anxiety

Body therapies are exactly what they sound like: Therapeutic techniques applied with or to the body to alleviate anxiety. And while these therapies tend to “only treat the symptoms,” removing some of the toll these symptoms take on the body can provide an important measure of optimism. This optimism can help the individual engage in cognitive therapies and, thus, make a more lasting change to their mood and mental health. Popular body therapies include yoga, acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and chiropractic services. Moreover, maintaining a regular exercise routine and improved diet can be its own type of natural remedy for anxiety.

Cognitive Therapies as a Natural Remedy for Anxiety

Cognitive therapy is its own comprehensive theory of psychotherapy that emphasizes recognizing and changing distorted thinking, problematic behaviors, and maladaptive emotional responses. But there are also several mind-based techniques that may employed by a therapist of almost any therapy orientation:

  • Meditation: Rather than trying to “just calm down,” many people find they can successfully alleviate or cope with their symptoms by learning to focus on and live in the present moment.
  • Mindfulness: This, too, involves being in the present moment, but rather than a candle, it’s your own thoughts that serve as the focusing stimulus. (In this way, meditation can serve as a stepstool for the practice of mindfulness.) Rather than judging or analyzing each thought, the goal is to simply observe each thought as it enters your mind.
  • Hypnotherapy: For those who are susceptible to hypnosis, this can be a uniquely effective treatment, but it’s no miracle cure. Often, the big question for this anxiety treatment is: Do you visit a hypnotherapy practice or a licensed mental health therapist who is also a certified hypnotherapist? Regardless, it usually takes several sessions to see a big change in mood.

Other Natural Remedies for Anxiety

  • Neurofeedback: This process involves showing the individual a visual or auditory representation of their brain activity as a way of controlling the activity. It may be weird to think of a therapy that involves attaching sensors to your scalp as a natural remedy for anxiety, but it is non-invasive. Plus, although neurofeedback isn’t a miracle cure, it’s cool to think that you can play a video game that’s designed to teach your brain to be less anxious.
  • Herbal Treatments: Through a number of online resources, you can find a handful of popular and commonly cited herbal treatments used for anxiety, as well as a longer list of herbal and nutritional supplements that are being actively studied. It’s more difficult than you might imagine, figuring out what works and what doesn’t. In general, we’re learning that some of these supplements likely produce some positive benefit, albeit a small one for most people.
  • Cannabis Therapy: Smoking marijuana with your buddies to take the edge off the workweek is not the same thing as cannabis therapy for anxiety. To get the best results, you should consult with a doctor in a state that permits cannabis treatment, determine which types of cannabis make sense for you, and closely adhere to a cannabis schedule and daily dosage. Moreover, because cannabis can potentially cause paranoia and elevated heart rate, among other side effects, there are still big risks associated with using the drug as an anxiety medication. And long-term, cannabinoids also have their own potential for withdrawal syndrome and rebound effects. Nevertheless, an increasing number of people are considering cannabis therapy for anxiety as a more “natural”—or at least less dangerous—choice than benzos and other anxiety medications.

Seek Guidance from a Mental Health Therapist

Even after doing your own research, there’s a good chance that choosing a treatment feels like throwing darts at a dart board. Whether you don’t know where to begin or you’ve already been through several failed attempts, it’s a great idea to talk to a therapist in Utah who has experience treating anxiety. In addition to lending an empathetic ear, these mental health providers can offer personalized tips for your natural anxiety remedies. They can also serve as a guide that helps coordinate and measure the effectiveness of various treatments.