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Positive Psychologist Explores Hidden Secret of Antidepressant Drug Use

No topic in the world of psychology has received more attention in the last decade than the emergence of a field known as “positive psychology.” The principles of the discipline are far reaching and may have implications for eliminating Illinois nursing home abuse and improving the lives of seniors everywhere.

Traditional psychology focuses on identifying problems faced by individuals and figuring out ways to treat them. Conversely, positive psychology deals not with fixing what is wrong, but in maximizing what is right with individuals. In its earliest stages positive psychology was labeled “The Study of Happiness.” However, as the field has grown, the overall idea of positive psychology has morphed into a focused on “well-being” or “flourishing” with “happiness” (usually thought of as positive emotion) being just one part of the field.

So why is this of any concern for Illinois nursing home neglect attorneys?

There are many different answers. One of the many can be found in the latest book by Dr. Martin Seligman-regarded as the founder of the positive psychology movement. Dr. Seligman is one of the most renowned psychologists of the last half century, having worked on a range of topics from learned helplessness and suicide to the effectiveness of cognitive therapy. His latest book, “Flourish,” fleshes out the current understandings and empirical evidence supporting positive psychology methods. The book includes a Chapter entitled “The Dirty Little Secret of Drugs and Therapy.” The section discusses how financial incentives likely distort treatment for those with psychological problems, like depression.

Dr. Seligman noted that antidepressant drugs are a multibillion dollar a year industry. Yet, experiments show that virtually all of these drugs-things like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro-beat placebos only by 20-25% in effectiveness studies. In addition, the drug benefits are only cosmetic. They do not offer a cure. If the drugs are removed the benefits for the patient are lost.

However, positive psychology treatments have been documented as having benefit to the patient that are just as strong as those seen in antidepressant medications. Positive psychology strategies essentially involve various exercises and awareness programs to help individuals recognize their strengths, maximize the use of those strengths, and actively fight thought traps which lead to depression. When appropriately implemented the treatments has the ability to minimize drug use (and their associative costs) while actually improving the lives of residents indefinitely.

All Illinois nursing home lawyers know the role that antidepressant medications have on the lives of residents of long term care facilities. On one hand, evidence suggests that these drugs may be lethal to certain residents. On the other hand, even when not deadly, the drugs have very real effects on the overall quality of life for residents. Considering that psychological evidence continues to offer alternative methods of improving the lives of residents without drugs, it seems obvious that those methods should be explored. However, every Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm appreciate that this will require confronting the role of drug use in these homes head-on, as well as committing resources to better training staff members on the ways that effective positive psychology can be integrated into the care of seniors.

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