New Treatment For Depression: Occupational Therapy


November 06, 2007

  • A Day In The Life
  • We’ve all seen commercials on TV advertising the latest and greatest pharmaceutical breakthroughs to help those who suffer from depression.  But now there may be more options available that don’t require taking medication.  Ashely Opp has posted a Consumer Article on the AOTA website that outlines some great ways that the field of OT is reaching out to help these people restructure their lives:

    Occupational therapy practitioners can examine the life roles that are meaningful to clients with depression and help adapt their responsibilities to give them the opportunity to participate and gain a sense of accomplishment. “Usually I go through the roles important to a client—worker, student, family member, friend, hobbyist—and we talk about how all of those roles have a set of responsibilities that, when met, have an outcome that is both desirable and rewarding,” Mahaffey explains.

    Practitioners then determine what interferes with a person’s ability to meet those responsibilities, such as a getting to work late everyday or finding work tasks overwhelming. “Sometimes I’ll break down tasks. For example, I might have a mom identify some simple meals and make a shopping list so she can get her kids fed while she works through her depression,” says Mahaffey.

    Self-esteem and identity also play large roles in managing depression. “I look at self-esteem from the perspective of how choices that we make in our lives impact how we think and consequently how we feel about ourselves,” Mahaffey says. Practitioners might talk with clients about structuring the day and replacing bad habits with good ones. For example, what will persons with depression do to fill and structure all of that time previously spent alone, maybe in bed or in front of the TV?

    Occupational therapy practitioners can help persons with depression examine how to balance leisure, work, and relationships. “We look at daily structure and include certain occupations and strategies to ensure that clients follow through on things so that they meet the responsibilities of the roles that are meaningful to them,” Mahaffey says.

    She gives a great example of a case study that shows how these points do in fact work to bring a new sense of well-being in the patients.  I highly recommend reading the entire article as she also gives wonderful background information on explaining what depression truly means and what some of the causes are.

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