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ASERT has compiled resources for those with autism and those who care for people with autism relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak.

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Be Well, Think Well: Services and Treatment for Depression

Overview

This resource, part of the Be Well, Think Well resource collection, provides information about managing depression, strategies for working with individuals who have autism and depression, common types of therapy for depression, medications for depression and anxiety, and how to find a therapist for an individual with autism.

Therapies for Depression

Therapy can be a helpful tool in treating depression. A psychotherapist, psychologist, or clinical social worker can provide treatment for depression and other mental health issues.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT focuses on the way our thoughts, behavior, and emotions impact each other. Therapists who use CBT teach new ways to behave and think in order to treat depression. Treatment is usually brief, lasting between 8 and 12 sessions.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)

Interpersonal therapy is all about relationships. Therapists trained in IPT work to change relationships that cause and maintain depression. IPT normally lasts between 12 and 16 sessions.

Problem Solving Therapy (PST)

Problem solving therapy focuses on identifying problems and ways to solve them. Therapists who use PST help individuals to find multiple solutions to a problem, identify the best one, and find a way to use it to resolve the issue.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

ECT is used in cases of severe depression that is not getting better with therapy and medication. An electronic current is carefully sent into the brain to try to help reduce depression. ECT is painless as the person receiving treatment is under anesthesia.

Medication for Treating Anxiety and Depression

Sometimes doctors will prescribe medicine to help with anxiety and depression.

Depression:

When people take medicine for depression, they usually take it for at least 6-12 months. It may take this type of medicine a few weeks to work. Once you begin to feel better, your doctor may want you to keep taking the medicine for another 6-9 months.

Anxiety:

Some medicines for anxiety work the first time you take it. Others may take days or weeks to work. Some may even make you feel more anxious the first few days you take it. This can be normal and should go away after a few days.

Remember!

  • Never stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor
  • It’s important to not miss doses of medicine. Use reminders, such as alarms on your smart phone, or using a weekly pill container placed where you will see it
  • Never share your medications with others
  • Always talk with your doctor if you have any side effects
  • If you don’t feel like you’re getting better, talk to your doctor
  • Keep appointments and check ups with your doctor, they’re very important
  • Your doctor may ask that you do other things to help your physical and mental health. These may include therapy, healthy food, exercise, or a daily schedule with the right amount of sleep. It’s important to follow these as best as you can

How To Find a Therapist for an Individual with Autism

1. Contact the insurance company

Insurance companies can be a great starting point for the search for a therapist. You can typically search for local therapists through the insurance company’s online self-service portal or by calling the customer service number on the back of the insurance card. You can find out what therapists are nearby, what insurance they accept, and whether or not they’re accepting new patients. If the person has medical assistance, contact the Special Needs Unit for additional help.

2. Psychology Today

Psychology Today is another great resource for finding a therapist. Their therapist directory can match people to a number of qualified therapists nearby. Therapist profiles typically include what insurance plans they accept, how much they charge, and what the therapist specializes in treating, letting you know exactly what to expect before scheduling the appointment. However, it’s good to contact the therapist to verify the information on the website and make sure they have experience working with individuals who have autism before scheduling an appointment.

3. Ask a healthcare provider

Primary care physicians often have therapists or agencies that they partner with and can give a referral. An added benefit is that they may be able to answer some questions about the provider and the services that they offer before contacting them to schedule a session.

4. Do some research

When choosing a therapist it’s important to know that type of treatment they use. Some types of treatment are better than others depending on the mental health condition and have research to support using those strategies. These are called Evidence Based Practices. Research the treatment types local providers specialize in to select a therapist that uses an Evidence Based Practice. A quick Google search can give plenty of information about which types of therapy are evidenced based.

5. Don't give up!

Sometimes the first therapist doesn’t work out, and that’s okay! The relationship between a therapist and client is a key part of treatment success and sometimes that relationship  doesn’t develop. Don’t get discouraged if the person doesn’t connect with the first therapist, there are others out there and they can always try again with someone else!

6. Plan ahead

Therapy is a big commitment and can take a lot of time and energy, so it’s important to ensure that the therapist can meet the person’s scheduling needs. Think about things like: Do their hours accommodate the person’s schedule? How will they get there? Therapy should be an experience that is enjoyable and helps the person, not something that adds stress. Planning early on can help reduce stress and lead to a better experience.

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Other downloads

Name Description Type File
Therapies for Depression This resource explains some common types of therapy for depression. pdf Download file: Therapies for Depression
Medication for Treating Anxiety and Depression This resource gives general information about medicine for depression and anxiety, and important things to remember. pdf Download file: Medication for Treating Anxiety and Depression
How To Find a Therapist for an Individual with Autism This resources outlines tips for finding a therapist for an individual with Autism pdf Download file: How To Find a Therapist for an Individual with Autism

This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.