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Occupational Therapy's Impact on Depression

Posted by Brian Spence on Apr 21, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Depression2.jpgYearly, forty-six hundred teens die from depression, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2004 the National Institute of Mental Health found that those sixty-five and older were twelve percent of the depressed and sixteen percent of suicides. And eighty percent of those who've attempted suicide have had depression. It affects almost everyone, and with depression, especially in teens, rising, society may be shaken. One way to lower depression is to use occupational therapy.


This form of therapy helps depressed persons find purpose in activities so as to reduce their depression.

The Depressed's Problems

  • Daily Tasks. Someone depressed doesn't feel they need to groom, eat healthily, or clean their sleeping area. 
  • Sleep Cycles. With depression comes uncomfortable nights. The illness causes the person to awake throughout the night, which effects sluggishness in the day.
  • Work. Since one with these problems finds no purpose in work, he or she's reluctant to work.
  • Leisure. For a depressed person leisure activities are stressful.
  • Socializing. The person can't interact with family members, friends, and any others; doesn't step outside or even out of his or her room; and many times is antagonistic to relationships.

The Causes

Some are depressed because of genetics. If depression is in the family, the person is more likely to have it. It is events that depress most others. These events alter the amount of neurotransmitters (which regulate temperament) normally secreted, changing moods. Because of poor diet, alcohol, drugs, neurotoxins, stress, and caffeine usage, it's thought that Americans have an abnormal amount of neurotransmitters, which may explain America's abundance of mood disorders.

How an Occupational Therapist Helps

Occupational therapists help patients find meaning in activities.

  • He or she shows the patient that each activity has a link to self-worth and in doing each well the person increases his or her value. If tasks must be completed, the therapist urges the patient to start finishing the tasks one by one so as not to feel overwhelmed.
  • The therapist finds a trustworthy friend or family member to be the patient's confidante. Now the patient can express his or her feelings when need be, which provides the balance between emotion suppression and emotional displays. Slowly the person learns to resocialize.
  • The doctor instructs the patient on how to sleep peacefully. Sleeping peacefully has a link to being able to enjoy leisure activities, or have fun and release stress. The therapist helps the patient find fun activities that he or she enjoys. The patient then learns how to relax again.

The whole process involves reteaching the person aspects of life to have he or she master them.

In a John Hopkins study to find whether occupational therapy truly helps, only twelve percent of those who had an occupational therapist had their symptoms worsen, while twenty-six percent of those who had a supportive therapist had the same happen. Although general therapy decreased depression, occupational decreased more of it.

This therapy definitely has its benefits. A chief benefit is the betterment of life. To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Healthcare section of our blog. 


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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.