Over the years I have become increasing aware of the hunger of patients for information about their mental health issues. Once a patient felt comfortable enough to ask, the questions came. How did you know that I was depressed after only spending an hour with me? Why did you pick that particular medicine? Why did you recommend that I see a therapist before starting meds? I got an email about a book that will cure my depression in 3 easy steps, should I buy it?
We are now in the Information Age and that stream of knowledge has not bypassed mental health issues. Information abounds, but that doesn’t mean that it is truly assessable to the average lay person. When my patients would go to medical literature they were often met with jargon that was indecipherable to them. When they did attempt to plow through the material they often reached the wrong conclusions. Other sources, like home medical encyclopedias or popular magazine were often too light, presenting information in the simplest way possible and thereby avoiding a lot of the meat of the topic. Now that most people have some sort of access to the Internet, misinformation has exploded. It takes little to launch a web page to sell your potion, lotion or self-help book. Many of these pages promise side-effect free cures or misrepresent the available data to build there own point. Unfortunately, misinformation and a slick looking web page can often co-exist quite comfortably.
I started to think about doing this project over 5 years ago, but like most physicians I was just too busy. A year ago I had the opportunity to make some changes in my work schedule and I decided that I could turn this concept into a reality. The idea was to extract the core concepts from lectures and talks that I had given medical students and psychiatry residents and to re-work those concepts in such a way so they would become understandable to someone without a background in the sciences. I come from a line of teachers and I have been told that I have the ability to take complicated information and make it understandable. In addition, I have done professional video work as a hobby so I thought that the process would be a simple task, taking no more than 3-4 weeks to complete. Boy was I wrong; this project has turned into a labor of love.
More research, writing and re-writing and more research again (and this doesn’t even touch on the myriad of technical challenges). In the end, topics were worked and reworked until focus groups of lay people (almost) universally said that they could understand the complicated concepts that I was setting forth. The project that I thought would take a month actually took close to a year to complete. With that said, I’m proud of the results and I feel that the DVD offers real value to patients who want to be informed and savvy about their treatment.
When evaluating treatment options I used my rule of three:
1) The medical literature.
2) My 22 years and Dr. Nelson-Kuna’s 14 years of real clinical experience.
3) If a close friend or relative needed information on depression, what would I tell them?
I can tell you as an old (and too fat) doctor I don’t think that media doctors like Dr. Phil have to worry about their jobs any time soon. But for patients who what to know the whys of treatment and need to know what works and what’s hype this DVD will give them a one-stop-shop in a format that I don’t believe is available anywhere else.
Depression What You Must Know, has been written with one group in mind, lay people who have an interest (or need) to quickly gain a good working knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of depression. However, in focus groups consisting of non-psychiatrist professionals, participants felt that the DVD could be useful for their needs too. Reflecting on this, I would agree, as the information given touches on all of the basic areas of diagnosis and treatment. However, if you are a professional who wants a lot of jargon or it you only feel comfortable with information that is presented with a ton of statistics or a million references, then this DVD is not for you. Lay people need real facts, they are not typically looking for journal articles to cite. For instance; I don’t talk about the pre-synaptic neuron and the post-synaptic neuron. Instead I look at Fred Nerve and Suzie Nerve and how Fred gets Suzie’s attention by releasing special packets of chemicals.
So which professionals may find this DVD useful?
1) A non-physician professional who wants an understandable presentation on medications, herbal/alternative treatments and future treatments.
2) A non-psychiatrist physician who would like a quick (approximately 90 minutes) overview which examines the diagnostic criteria, necessary history and treatments of depression.
3) Medical students starting their clinical psychiatry rotations.
4) Psychology students looking for a good, basic and understandable foundation on depression which they can then build more complicated concepts.
The original intent was to make this DVD available for patients at my clinic, Genesis Clinical Services, in Wheaton Illinois. But as the project expanded it became apparent that the information would be useful to other patients and so it will also be available via various retail outlets. Professionals that were kind enough to participate in focus groups felt that other medical, psychiatric or therapy practices might be interested in becoming limited distributors of this DVD (i.e. offer it for sale in their offices). If you are a professional and you are interested in learning more about becoming a limited distributor I would be happy to send you a 20+ minute sampler of the DVD (on a CD-ROM, not DVD). Just send me your business card along with a short note on letter head and I’ll mail one off to you. Along with the CD I’ll include a very short survey which will help me improve the next video project. Click here for the CD-ROM offer.
I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to read this long letter!
Michael Kuna, MD
This information has become a CEU for professionals, click here for more information!