Dr. Michael Yapko, Ph.D. Talks Mental Health at 2016 Porter-Starke Symposium

Dr. Michael Yapko, Ph.D. Talks Mental Health at 2016 Porter-Starke Symposium
By: Sam Malkowski Last Updated: May 26, 2016

Depression is an overwhelming problem to the individual and to our community. It has been called the leading cause of disability throughout the world, a genetic disorder, and a disease. At this year’s Porter-Starke Symposium Dr. Michael D Yapko called it a state of mind that can be overcome.

“This is a disorder,” he said, “That is so responsive to placebo based intervention. This tells you that it is largely a disease of perception.”

Our country has gone about treating depression the wrong way for a long time. We are one of only two countries that is allowed to run drug ads on television. Great Britain prohibits doctors from prescribing antidepressants because they have proven ineffective, yet we continue to medicate our population.

In his forty years of treating depression, Dr. Yapko has learned that certain skills insulate a person from being broken by struggle. It is learning those skills that will pull other people out of their depression.

Sandy Carlson, Vice President of Porter-Starke’s Clinical Services, spoke to the Symposium’s 291 attendees about the kind of attitude a person with depression has. A lot of their thoughts are familiar to the average person:

“What’s the point?”

“I don’t want to be here anymore.”

“I feel closed in, like everyone knows I’m worthless.”

“Maybe I don’t deserve to be happy.”

These thoughts escalate until they cannot be ignored. Carlson said that “When we are depressed, it is hard to believe we ever won’t be.”

That is why Dr. Yapko’s presentation demanded people take action instead of dwelling in their own minds. The more you think about depression, the worse it gets. Even venting your feelings to a therapist is not enough to fix the problem. “It’s not just about getting lost in your feelings or talking to someone. People can feel better, that doesn’t mean you are better.”

Therapists, according to Dr. Yapko, need to be teaching their patients the skills to self serve. “The more active people are in treatment, the better the results will be.”

By learning compartmentalization and critical thinking a person can prevent their own relapse. Dr. Yapko’s books, which were on sale outside the Symposium, teach that you need to Get Out of Yourself, Learn to Access Others Realistically, and Take Action. Being social despite feelings of isolation is important because it allows others to challenge the negative views you have of yourself and the world around you. That does not mean you should depend on others to bring you out of depression.

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“We can only give our best service to others when we take care of ourselves first,” said CEO Rocco Schiralli of Porter-Starke. This means serving one’s self, as Dr. Yapko talked about. Schiralli treats his own stress by creating artwork at home.

Stress is one of the many contributing factors of depression. One cause does not exist. It is not a disease or a social crime. It is a series of symptoms that come together to kick us when we are down.

Everyone suffers from depression. Some of us are lucky enough to have learned the skills to handle it ourselves. Most people do not have that luxury. If the Symposium did not teach someone how to better control their own stress then it taught them how to help someone else.

Elliot Miller, Director of Marketing for Porter-Starke, said, “We hope people leave the event today with a better understanding of depression, how to be resilient against it, and how to overcome it. Through the support of our many sponsors, we’re able to bring an expert to share practical tools needed to better care for themselves and those they care about.”