Management of depressive symptoms

Acknowledge symptoms and the links between our physical symptoms, thoughts, mood, behaviour and environment.

You may be able to help by:

  • Information giving.
  • Management of physical symptoms - e.g. if someone has lost weight due to not eating or advice on how to manage sleep disturbance.
  • Goal planning & problem solving - to get the person to plan activities that will give them enjoyment as well as the things they have to do and getting them to be quite specific about the when's and how's so that any depressive thoughts can be addressed.
  • Increased awareness of depressive symptoms and how to access help.
  • Challenges to unhelpful thoughts:
    • Making assumptions - is the person overlooking things that may help them on the assumption that they won’t work.
    • Focusing on the negative.
    • Criticising ourselves.
    • Catastrophising. Making everything seem like the worst.

Your patient/client may have different levels of depressive symptoms. How can you help them?

Mild/transient depressive symptoms

  • Acknowledge symptoms, give information and support as appropriate and monitor mood and responses.

Moderate depressive symptoms

  • Requires treatment, possible referral to a psychology service, medication.

Severe depressive symptoms

  • Active suicidal thoughts with intention – contact GP urgently.

What can you do?

The level of psychological support and expertise required would change dependent on the severity, complexity and persistence of the presenting problem. This would move from general compassionate care, support and information giving through to specialist psychological intervention and treatment as shown by the NES Stepped Care for Psychological Therapies*. The level of support you are providing would determine the level of training and supervision you would require.

Stepped Care for Psychological Therapies

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Stepped Care for Psychological Therapies: Compassionate care -> low level intervention -> specialist treatment.