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Are you suffering from depression or a medical condition? Depression can be a symptom of an undiagnosed medical condition.

Decision trees are used in psychotherapy much like they are in other professions. At the top of the decision tree are always two items to rule out FIRST, before making a mental health diagnosis.

  1. A general medical condition or

  2. A chemical dependency

As a rule-of-thumb if it has been longer than 2 years since you have had a thorough medical examination it's time to call and schedule that appointment. Please, don't put it off until tomorrow, do it today (Are you hearing that gentlemen?) ;-)

When I speak of "thorough medical examination" I mean the actual physical exam given by your family doctor and a full blood workup as well.

There are many diseases and medical issues that can cause depressive symptoms. Common ones include: AIDS, anemia, cancer, congestive heart failure, diabetes, infectious hepatitis, malnutrition, MS, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid conditions.

The order of this decision tree is very important. You don't want to treat what you think is a depression problem, if there's a medical condition going unnoticed, untreated and becoming worse.

Additionally, you will waste valuable time and money treating a secondary condition that may well disappear if you are treated for the primary medical condition at the beginning.

I'm a psychotherapist, and NO, I'm not trying to chase off business! I am, however, interested in you getting better. 

I speculate that the growing trend in "atypical depression," or untreatable depression, lies partly in untreated health problems. And, in particular, malnutrition. Did you know that one study showed that 80% of Americans suffer from malnutrition? Hard to believe? The new field of Metabolic Typing has shed tremendous light on this subject, and you may have heard it referred to as "Syndrome X."

There are times when it's not this simple. You may be convinced you have a medical problem, but all the tests come back negative. In that case, your best bet is to treat the depression and become your own information sleuth and/or seek a second opinion. Modern medicine continues to make tremendous leaps forward, but it is not perfect.

Also be aware that you may simply have depression and are struggling with acceptance. Many people wrestle with the fact that there is no concrete test, like a blood test, that you can get to verify if depression is, with certainty, the culprit. That's very understandable, but don't allow it to get in the way of receiving proper help. You and those you love do not need to suffer needlessly.

Another complex situation involves when you may need to be treated for both a medical condition and a depression condition. Even then, a doctor should first treat your medical condition and monitor the depression to see if it subsides with the treatment you're receiving. The doctor can always recommend an antidepressant and psychotherapy as needed. The only exception to this rule is if you have severe depression and are in danger of suicide. Then you may require immediate hospitalization for the purpose of emotion stabilization.

In the column to the right I address the very real possibility of having an emotional trauma and how it can play a part in creating physical illness.   You will be interested in what I say to the right.  And, in a future issue, I will cover this in much more detail.

All my best in your recovery efforts!







Dave Turo-Shields (email)
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer & Life Coach


Send Me Your Success Strategy!!

Take a moment and email me a success moment in your fight against depression so I can add it to the blog (online journal) next.  Let's create a resource for the suffering!

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Nutrition Resource

Four years ago I began looking for good vitamin supplements.  I had three criteria:

  1. Cost

  2. Purity

  3. Convenience

I did a lot of research and discovered a place called the Vitamin Shoppe online.

Although they offer all name- brand supplements, it's hard to beat their own brand and the prices are fantastic.  I'm re-ordering in September because they're having a 50% off sale beginning September 1st.

The Vitamin Shoppe

Ask Dave!



"Can physical and mental  illness be caused by trauma?"

- Dolly


What a fascinating question!  And one worthy of an entire article (stay tuned!).

The answer is an astounding YES!  Think about it, what is emotion?  It's a physical sensation that we translate into a verbally expressed word such as sadness, anger, fear etc.  In other words, we experience events first in a physical way and then we add meaning and language later.

Trauma situations, if not appropriately debriefed within 24-48 hours, can take hold in the mind and body.  We often refer to this as "anchoring."  This physiological response occurs to protect you, and has to be released before it becomes its own problem. 

Wilhelm Reich developed the concept of body armoring. It is a defense mechanism of the body– the muscular tissue, the nerves, the connective tissue. Chronic tension results in both physical and energetic constriction. Eventually disease can manifest. Armoring is a protective mechanism that shields us from both physical and emotional pain, but it also ends up deadening us, making us less able to feel.

If you have experienced a traumatic event and feel it continues to impact you emotionally and physically seek out a psychotherapist skilled in treating what is called "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

You may hire me for online counseling to complete an initial evaluation of your needs, if you would like.


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