December 1st, 2012

In-depth evaluation, CBT, core of enhanced mood disorder program

Since 2003, Walden Behavioral Care has been known for its continuum of care for eating disorder patients, who have been treated via inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. In August, Walden introduced New England’s first inpatient care program for adults needing treatment for only mood disorders, in its enhanced program for mood disorder patients 18 years and older.

Because “a majority” of Walden’s eating disorder patients suffer from multiple psychiatric disorders, as noted by Walden’s President and CEO Stuart Koman, Ph.D., in a news release announcing the program, Walden has also treated mood disorders since it opened – namely, depression and bipolar disorder. Its enhanced mood disorder program will revolve around a unique combination of both doctor-administered and self-supervised assessments, and an in-depth concentration in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which Walden believes helps patients change how they think and act by challenging their self-defeating beliefs.

“Mood disorders cause significant, substantial suffering, as well as time lost at work and economic challenges for society in general. The worst situations can have serious outcomes,” says David H. Brendel, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the newly enhanced program. “The inpatient care is designed for people with really severe symptoms – suicidality, psychosis or patients who are completely unable to care for themselves in the community. It will provide safety, stabilization and treatment for our most severe patients.”

Brendel says some epidemiological studies refer to a lifetime depression prevalence of 20 percent of the population and bipolar disorder at three to four percent. Though there are many general inpatient psychiatry units in New England, he says none take only mood disorders as inpatients. Where many Walden patients arrive with co-morbid conditions of eating and mood disorders, Walden’s program will treat people with stand-alone conditions.

Mood disorders are chronic and recurring conditions, says Brendel, and though there’s no cure for them, there are exciting treatment options. He believes Walden’s new program is one of them. A cornerstone of the program is its extensive use of structured assessments, whose data will provide patients with an in-depth understanding of their disorder and, with patients’ permission, will provide doctors with a basis for future research. Assessments will include the Beck Depression Inventory; the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale; the Young Mania Rating Scale and the Clinical Global Impression Scale.

“We have an expertise across a whole range of disciplines,” says Brendel. To that end, CBT in the form of private and full group therapy will go hand in hand with the assessments.

The program will accommodate 23 patients at a time, whose stays are typically eight days. Brendel says that in recent years, Walden has gotten better at treating patients with CBT and medicine, which has allowed patients to leave the hospital and in some cases, go into an outpatient program or even back into their own community.

“We decided to carve out a niche for patients who require very specialized treatment,” he says. Goals of the program are to continue working closely with family members and working to collect quantitative data to help improve the lives of current patients and future ones.

In other Walden news released in August, the hospital announced its new eating disorder treatment clinic in South Windsor, Conn., in conjunction with the Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN), a non-profit, community-based healthcare system.

The clinic began seeing patients on Aug. 13, and according to a press release announcing the collaboration, it’s situated near several major highways and within 10 miles of ECHN’s two hospitals – Manchester Memorial in Manchester, and Rockville General Hospital in Vernon.

Walden’s President and CEO Koman said in the release that the “lack of specialized services for treating eating disorders attracted us to the area.” Though Walden has satellite clinics in Waltham, Northampton, Worcester and Braintree, Mass., the South Windsor location is its first in Connecticut. It will now serve 19 towns in Eastern Connecticut.

By Jennifer E Chase

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