Depression is a major mental health issue all across the world. Here in America we spend $71 Billion treating it and much of that expense is for medications. Primary care practitioners routinely refer their depressed patients to psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers. In the recent past, medical professionals are looking to other specialties to help alleviate the symptoms of depression with a goal to decrease medication and alleviate the condition itself.
Not Just Basket Weaving
Occupational therapy helps people function more effectively when faced with daily life challenges. It has been employed in inpatient mental health facilities for years, usually with activities centered around art, such as basket weaving, working with clay and similar crafts. Now OTs are also contributing to mental health treatments, especially for depression. Johns Hopkins OTs help mental health patients cope with emotional problems to develop life management skills.
Depression can sap a person's energy and drive, leaving them feeling listless, unmotivated unable to have fun, or even perform necessary activities to get through the day. Lisa Diamond Burchuk, from Manitoba, Canada had a patient whose depression prevented her from buying groceries. Berchuk "prescribed" that the woman start cooking. Unenthusiastic at first, she forced herself to make tea and toast. But though progress came slowly, the therapy worked. "With each step and small success she felt better and wanted to take on the next step." Eventually the patient was fully functional in the kitchen - and was able to buy groceries again.
From Passive to Active
Depression can be paralyzing. Making breakfast or baking bread isn't the same degree of accomplishment as flying a plane or writing the next best selling novel; but creating something in the kitchen does benefit sufferers of depression because they did something. Those small victories can go a long way to restore a sense of purpose to someone whose mental illness has caused chaos in their life. Cooking is a place to start, even if it's only a small dish of happiness.
The demand for Occupational Therapists is expected to grow by 24% by the middle of the next decade. Contact us to find positions that might be right for you.
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