Depression and anxiety have become the nation’s most common disorders with 18% of the adult population experiencing anxiety and 7% experiencing clinical depression in a given year. Furthermore, over 50% of patients have a relapse of symptoms within a year. Despite the high rate of incidence, depression and anxiety are highly responsive to psychotherapy treatment. Avoiding relapse involves learning to manage stress in a way that is effective, practical, and easily doable for you.
I begin with a comprehensive assessment that includes not only standard DSM diagnosis, but also consider specific brain-based subtypes of depression/anxiety; relational dynamics that inform choice of treatment; and hormones and other physical factors that may contribute to the symptoms. Beginning with a comprehensive understanding of the psychological, relational, and physiological factors ensures that treatment is focused on the right issues.
Initially, I focus on examine the thoughts, relationships, and experiences that fuel the depressive and anxious symptoms, and identify more realistic evaluations and beliefs, often through psychoeducation. Depending on the person and specific nature of the concern, I may use a combination of solution-focused, narrative, collaborative, cognitive-behavioral, systemic, or existential therapies.
Once a client's symptoms have improved, I work with them to prevent a return to depression and anxiety and maintain habits that support life-long psychological and relational wellness. This phase may involve similar therapy models in addition to mindfulness and other forms of stress management.
Most clients find that reading books on the topics of happiness, depression, and anxiety help support them in addressing their initial symptoms and helping to reinforce new habits that significantly reduce the risk of relapse, which is essential for successful treatment of depression and anxiety
Authentic Happiness is a great introduction to the science of happiness, positive psychology. Strangely, what most of us think will make us happy in the long-term, only provides a short-term boost of happiness. And things we don’t think contribute that much to happiness, really are the key to long-term happiness. This book is a great option if you feel like you have much of what should make you happy, yet it still seems elusive.
Written by UCLA interpersonal neurobiology pioneer Dan Siegel, Mindsight is a straightforward approach to reducing stress, anxiety, and depression by learning to observe the mind in action. Mindsight offers readers a visual and systematic approach to managing difficult emotions in a more effective way without denying or drowning in them. Siegel’s down-to-earth style makes his approach easy to learn and practice. This is a great option for visual learners and those who want a practical approach to managing their emotions.
Written by Oprah’s life coach, Finding Your Own North Star a fun, down-to-earth read on identifying what really makes you happy and what does not. Peppered with pointed humor, this book takes you on a step-by-step process of how to get your own version of happy, including how to deal with beliefs, emotions, and relationships that hold you back. A book for action-oriented folks, each chapter has worksheets to help you figure out the right steps for you. If you can’t stand the typical self-help book, this is a good option for you.
The Depression Cure addresses many lifestyle issues that create and maintain depression, such as eating, sleeping, exercise, and social connections. This book is essential if you have moderate to severe depression and you want to avoid anti-depressant medication and/or you have been seriously depressed more than once in life. In fact, it is relevant for anyone wanting to find greater physical and emotional wellness in the 21st century.
Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life uses a workbook format to help address unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that result in feeling stressed, depressed, and/or anxious. This book is based on a leading evidence-based therapy approach, acceptance and commitment therapy, that integrates contemporary cognitive-behavioral therapy with some mindfulness-based concepts (don’t worry, no meditating involved: see mindfulness books below if you’d like to do that). This is a great text if you are action- or solution-oriented and get a sense of enjoy from taking practical steps to address concerns in your life.
The Mindful Way is a mindfulness-based workbook that outlines an 8-week program for learning how to respond to anxious and depressing thoughts in new ways. It is based on the number one evidence-based program for preventing depression relapse (i.e., having another depressive episode after successfully treatment with medication, psychotherapy, or both). Essentially, anyone who has struggled with depression or anxiety can likely benefit from this book to not only reduce symptoms but prevent them from coming back. The book has recorded mindfulness meditations that come with the book.