Depression: Symptoms, Assessments, and Traditional & Alternative Treatments

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Developed by Garry Cooper, LCSW

General Course Description

Most therapists still believe that the most effective treatment for depression is a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and antidepressants, and that depression is caused by low serotonin levels. Are you lagging way behind the research too? There are different causes for depression and many more proven effective treatments. If you are relying on only one or two treatments, then you are probably going to help only about 2/3 of your depressed clients – and you will make things worse for some of them. To competently treat depression, today’s therapists should have a broad understanding of its symptoms and causes and have different treatments available to them.

This basic course is composed of three sections and includes the work of Barry Duncan, Jacqueline Sparks and Scott Miller. The first section provides a general overview of depression’s symptoms, assessments and traditional treatments. It includes information on the surprising incidence of depression among pregnant women and new mothers and how it can affect infants. The second section examines the issues and controversies surrounding antidepressant medications and includes information on the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. The third section describes various psychotherapies and alternative treatments for depression. Additional resources and references are provided for further study, but they are not part of the course.

Educational Objectives:

    This course will teach the participant to

  • Define treatment guidelines for various kinds of depression.
  • Identify the limitations of published research on antidepressants.
  • Identify the side effects of antidepressant medications.
  • Conduct more careful screenings of new mothers and children for depression.
  • Review effective treatments, including some alternative medical treatments.
  • Assemble self-help resources for depressed clients.


  • Barth J, Munder T, Gerger H, Nuesch E, Trelle S, et al. (2013). Comparative efficacy of even psychotherapeutic interventions for patients with depression: A network meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine, 10 (5), e1001454.
  • Seo, M., Kang, H. S., Lee, Y. J., & Chae, S. M. (2015). Narrative therapy with an emotional approach for people with depression: Improved symptom and cognitive‐emotional outcomes. Journal of psychiatric and mental health nursing, 22 (6), 379-389.
  • Stavrakakis, N., Booij, S. H., Roest, A. M., de Jonge, P., Oldehinkel, A. J., & Bos, E. H. (2015). Temporal dynamics of physical activity and affect in depressed and nondepressed individuals. Health Psychology, 34 (S), 1268-1277.

Course Syllabus:

  • Defining the disease
    • Assessment guidelines from major mental health associations
    • Differences between infant, child/adolescent and adult depression
    • Psychodynamic view of definitions, symptoms and descriptions
    • Spiritual dimensions of depression; depression as an indicator of growth
    • Physical causes of depression
  • Treatment guidelines
    • Treatment guidelines from major mental health organizations
    • Recommended treatments from National Institute of Mental Health
    • Specific antidepressant medications: mechanisms, side effects, interactions
    • Addressing the physical cause of depression
  • Antidepressants: do the benefits outweigh the side effects?
    • The Kirsch study: are antidepressants more effective than placebo?
    • How research can slant the results: critically examining research
    • Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants
  • Depression among pregnant women and post partum depression
    • Prevalence rates
    • How pregnant and new mothers’ depression affects infants
  • Recent effective psychotherapies and treatments
    • Interpersonal Psychotherapy
    • Process-experiential therapy
    • Behavior Activation therapy
    • Exercise & Other alternative approaches
CE Badge Created with Sketch. 6 CE

Cost: $59.00

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