Presentation Title

Treating the Whole Patient: Respecting the Complicated Nature of the Depressed Mind

Authors' Names

Nicholas CoombsFollow

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

Purpose: Depression has a recurring negative impact on quality of life, is heavily associated with increased risk of suicide, and has no universal safeguard to definitively prevent its development. The magnitude of this challenge is evident when acknowledging the steady rise in suicide across the United States with even steeper rises in states with already high rates, particularly Montana. Considering its elevated, vast, rural geographic setting, the inability to control for long, dark winters, psychiatric services existing few and far between in a state that is 4th largest in area but 3rd least largest in population density, and the inherent stigma that prevents mental health from adequately being addressed, individuals who reside in Montana are susceptible to countless overlapping mental health issues as they relate to depression. As a result, many clinical and scientific professionals mark Montana as the epicenter of mental health crises. The purpose of my research is to evaluate and disseminate more holistic approaches to better serve individuals experiencing depression in Montana by studying the physiological pathways that invoke certain treatments for depression between contrasting geographic regions and areas of practice.

Methods: A diverse sample of mental health and primary care practitioners currently practicing in Montana will be enrolled in this cross-sectional mixed methods study. Each provider will undergo a comprehensive qualitative interview to detail their patient populations, credentials, provider toolkits, and attitudes towards all independent treatment options for depression. This will identify distinctive biased underpinnings and how they may affect an individual’s pathway to treatment through the governance of different practitioners. Additionally, aggregate results from the most recent Montana Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System will be evaluated to provide patient-derived attitudes towards mental healthcare access, quality, and cost in corresponding geographic regions of Montana.

Originality: When considering all possible routes an individual may take to develop depression, the countless combinations of symptoms that may be exhibited when one has depression and the established differences individuals hold by their distinct physical, social, and cultural environments, one may infer that no two cases of depression are the same. To date, there has been no research conducted in Montana or in a comparable population to investigate the ambiguous nature of the depressed mind from neither the view of practitioners nor personal characteristics of patients, thus producing original value to this scope of research.

Significance: Although there are an abundance of treatments successful in reducing depressive symptoms, they each vary with respect to an individual’s perception of cost, convenience, and feasibility. As mental health professionals, we must recognize the array of options at our disposal and be careful not to administer treatment before considering the unique needs of the patient. When carried out properly, this can improve response of all forms of treatment, empower individuals to take their mental health more seriously, and allow more individuals in crisis to seek out treatment for which they have never done before.

Mentor Name

James Caringi

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Feb 22nd, 9:40 AM Feb 22nd, 9:55 AM

Treating the Whole Patient: Respecting the Complicated Nature of the Depressed Mind

UC 330

Purpose: Depression has a recurring negative impact on quality of life, is heavily associated with increased risk of suicide, and has no universal safeguard to definitively prevent its development. The magnitude of this challenge is evident when acknowledging the steady rise in suicide across the United States with even steeper rises in states with already high rates, particularly Montana. Considering its elevated, vast, rural geographic setting, the inability to control for long, dark winters, psychiatric services existing few and far between in a state that is 4th largest in area but 3rd least largest in population density, and the inherent stigma that prevents mental health from adequately being addressed, individuals who reside in Montana are susceptible to countless overlapping mental health issues as they relate to depression. As a result, many clinical and scientific professionals mark Montana as the epicenter of mental health crises. The purpose of my research is to evaluate and disseminate more holistic approaches to better serve individuals experiencing depression in Montana by studying the physiological pathways that invoke certain treatments for depression between contrasting geographic regions and areas of practice.

Methods: A diverse sample of mental health and primary care practitioners currently practicing in Montana will be enrolled in this cross-sectional mixed methods study. Each provider will undergo a comprehensive qualitative interview to detail their patient populations, credentials, provider toolkits, and attitudes towards all independent treatment options for depression. This will identify distinctive biased underpinnings and how they may affect an individual’s pathway to treatment through the governance of different practitioners. Additionally, aggregate results from the most recent Montana Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System will be evaluated to provide patient-derived attitudes towards mental healthcare access, quality, and cost in corresponding geographic regions of Montana.

Originality: When considering all possible routes an individual may take to develop depression, the countless combinations of symptoms that may be exhibited when one has depression and the established differences individuals hold by their distinct physical, social, and cultural environments, one may infer that no two cases of depression are the same. To date, there has been no research conducted in Montana or in a comparable population to investigate the ambiguous nature of the depressed mind from neither the view of practitioners nor personal characteristics of patients, thus producing original value to this scope of research.

Significance: Although there are an abundance of treatments successful in reducing depressive symptoms, they each vary with respect to an individual’s perception of cost, convenience, and feasibility. As mental health professionals, we must recognize the array of options at our disposal and be careful not to administer treatment before considering the unique needs of the patient. When carried out properly, this can improve response of all forms of treatment, empower individuals to take their mental health more seriously, and allow more individuals in crisis to seek out treatment for which they have never done before.