02 Dec 8 Unconventional Ways to Ease Depression
- By Madeline R Vann, MPH
- Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Unusual Therapies for Depression
Think treating depression is a one-size-fits-all approach? Think again. For many people with depression, it can take weeks, months, or years (and a lot of trial and error) to find a treatment that works — and it’s often a combination of therapy and antidepressants.
“It might also take some time to work through whatever it is that is bothering you — there’s lots of unfinished business in people’s lives,” points out certified art therapist Matthew Bernier, MCAT, associate professor of health professions and psychiatry and behavioral sciences in the Graduate Art Therapy & Counseling Program at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.
But while you’re working out that unfinished business, adding some not-so-run-of-the-mill therapies to your treatment plan may help. Here are eight unconventional approaches you may want to incorporate into your treatment plan.
Presenting Puppet Therapy
If you saw Mel Gibson’s 2011 flick The Beaver — a film about a man who turns to a toy beaver to pull him out of the throes of depression — you probably had one thing on your mind: Could this really work?
In fact, puppets, dolls, and stuffed animals play a strong role in therapy for all age levels. “It’s easier to talk or play with a puppet than it is to talk to another person,” Bernier notes. “Even though adults know the puppet is pretend, they can still go along with it.”
A report in The Journal of Mental Health Counseling looked at a case study of an 8-year-old boy who used a bug puppet during “narrative therapy.” Before the puppet came into play, he was quiet about his underlying issues; once he started using it, he was able to give voice to his problems.
Bernier has a stash of puppets readily available in his office and allows patients to select one that suits them — and some therapists take it a step farther, prescribing puppets with specific names and personalities.
The Healing Power of Art Therapy
Ready to let those creative juices flow? Artistic expression can help people connect with their depression and any underlying causes at a deeper level, says Bernier. He combines puppet therapy with art therapy by encouraging patients to create their own puppets using cast-off materials, such as empty soda bottles or old socks.
“There is a metaphor and great symbolism in using otherwise forgotten, cast-off, rejected materials transformed into something of great value,” he explains.
Since the American Art Therapy Association was established in 1969, many therapists have been trained in both art and therapy. Healing arts can include drawing, painting, and sculpting, or other creative methods of expression such as dance, drama, or music therapy. This approach helps people connect with their anger, shame, or guilt from trauma and may bring depression relief.
To read full article, visit Everyday Health.