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 This discussion is about a case study of a 60-year-old male, whom has struggled with depression for the past 40 years.

The male has done well with his current treatment until recently. His family noticed that he was less active, not very joyful, feeling hopeless, and worthless. Client has a family history pf mental illness. His medical history includes osteoporosis, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, enlarged prostate, and arthritis. He has been on different treatments in the past. Diagnostic testing was performed.


Three questions I would choose the ask my patient would be Are there any significant life changes that occurred in the last five years to trigger an exacerbation in depression? This would allow us to review if anything specifically exacerbated his symptoms. Do you have suicidal thoughts or any past suicidal attempts? We want to make sure that the patient is not at risk of committing suicide (Fried & Nesse, 2015). Lastly, I would ask the patient if they feel safe at home? This is important because our patient’s safety is very important (Laff, 2016).

Family Questions

When assessing a patient, it is nice to allow the family to be involved if they are supportive and want to help the patient’s health improve. Some questions that the provider may want to ask the family are: How are the family dynamics, Does the patient’s symptoms get worse in certain environments, and What does the family member suffering from depression in their home environment? These are important questions to help develop a picture of what is going on with the patient (Laff, 2016).

Physical Exam and Diagnostic Testing

When assessing the patient for Major depressive disorder you want to examine the patients’ depressive symptoms. In the case study the patient had lost interest in activities, feeling sad, no joy, worthless, and hopeless. The patient was having trouble concentrating. Scales are major when screening for depression. The scale cannot diagnose a patient but can help confirm a diagnosis and tell us the severity of the depression. Some appropriate screens include patient health questionnaire (PHQ-2), patient health questionnaire 9 (PHQ9), ZUNG scale, and Beck depression inventory (BDI). Diagnostic testing is useful in ruling out any other diseases/conditions that may be causing the depression. We run a blood test such as complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and thyroid panel. We want to make sure the patient does not have organic disease, infection or a thyroid disorder that may be causing the depressive symptoms (Ng, How, & Ng, 2016).

Differential Diagnoses

The three differential diagnosis I have chosen are adjustment disorder, persistent depression disorder (dysthymia), and bipolar disorder. Adjustment disorder is an emotional or behavioral reaction over several months of stressful events or changes in a person’s life. Dysthymia is a chronic mood disorder with a duration of at least two years, the person does not experience pleasure, displays other depressive symptoms that can affect the person’s overall quality of life. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that has relapsing and remitting spells of mania and depression, the individual experiences depression more than mania (Lee & Swartz, 2017).

Drug Therapy

In this case study, the patient was started on Abilify and venlafaxine. Another good medication choice for initial treatment would be SSRIs. Abilify has side effects of weight gain, increased lipid levels, EPS, nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth. Venlafaxine can increase blood pressure. SSRIs such as Prozac Zoloft, or Celexa. This SSRI has fewer side effects and is safe. The SSRIs turn off the production of new serotonin, sending the message to the brain to continue making serotonin (Edwards, 2018). SSRI’s are do not have dietary restrictions like MAOIs, or cause heart disturbances and orthostatic hypotension SSRI (Bressert, 2017).


Follow-ups are used to evaluate the progression of the patient’s symptoms. Practitioners evaluate medication side effects, the effectiveness of the medication, and the patient’s symptoms. It can take 4-8 weeks to know the effectiveness of a medication. In the case study, they followed up with the patient every four weeks. This case study taught the lesson of thinking outside of the box and using diagnostic tools to help improve the patient’s symptoms. The therapeutic dosages for venlafaxine, the initial dosage is 37.5 mg, the maintenance dose is 75 mg -100 mg, moderate depression is 225 mg, and severe depression is 375 mg (, 2019). This practitioner used blood levels to find the patient’s therapeutic dosage. By doing this the patient developed remission.