ROBERTO FIGUEROA MD PHD (310)963-7146
Dr. Figueroa is only seeing patients online now.
Struggling with depression or anxiety can cause intense suffering, affect your ability to have or enjoy relationships and disrupt your ability to function at work or home. Problems with your emotional health can prevent you from pursuing your dreams and living life to the fullest. Finding hope is the first step in getting better. And there are reasons to be hopeful. Research has consistently demonstrated the benefit of multiple treatment approaches. It has also shown that the most effective treatment is the combination of psychotherapy and medication treatment.
Dr. Figueroa specializes in treating anxiety and depression. He uses an integrated approach that combines cognitive behavioral (CBT) and psychodynamic psychotherapy with medication treatment when indicated. Dr. Figueroa has twenty years of experience and advanced specialization in psychopharmacology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and in psychodynamic psychotherapy at Columbia University.
Dr. Figueroa conducts a thorough evaluation in the initial interview. Assessments generally include an empathetic exploration of current concerns, past experiences, and family history. A complete evaluation may include meetings with family members or significant others, consultations with current providers, and medical evaluations. By the end of your initial evaluation, Dr. Figueroa will offer you some initial impressions and an initial treatment plan. A three-session comprehensive assessment is often necessary before determining the psychotherapy approach that will be best for you.
Emotional difficulties often results from unrecognized beliefs, conflicts or patterns. Being unaware of your feelings, thoughts, and actions, may lead you to continue to engage in maladaptive ways of thinking and relating. Psychotherapy aims to help you develop a deeper awareness and a better understanding of your own mind, in order to relieve symptoms, enhance well-being, and develop healthier relationships.
There are, however, no guarantees that therapy will be effective or that it will not cause emotional distress. It may involve discussing difficult aspects of your life that may lead to unpleasant emotions. While negative feelings are common in therapy, it is important that you let your therapist know when they occur.
Dr. Figueroa has experience with various types of psychotherapy. Dr. Figueroa will collaborate with you to determine the psychotherapeutic treatment that best suits you as an individual. Regardless of the therapeutic approach, Dr. Figueroa will provide a warm environment where you can feel safe to explore your beliefs and emotions.
Psychiatric medication can play an important role in relieving distress, and improve emotional health and balance. Medications are often used as adjuncts to psychotherapy. If a medication is indicated, Dr. Figueroa will discuss with you the potential benefits, risks, side effects and alternatives of specific medications. Dr. Figueroa will also explain the dosage and frequency of administration, the usual length of treatment and any risk of long term treatment or sudden discontinuation of a medication.
Is it Major Depression or Sadness?
Emotions are complex reactions that our minds create in order to understand and engage with the world around us. Feeling sad or even lacking motivation or energy may be ways in which our brains help us adapt to the environment and its challenges. The way we relate to other people and their attitude to us also changes depending on our emotional state.
Exploring how and when sadness may be normal and adaptive can be critical in validating our emotions and in fully understanding how being depressed is not in our best interest. Major depression is more than normal sadness or bereavement. Major depression is a syndrome of multiple symptoms that are getting in the way of functioning, personal growth and adaptation to the challenges at hand.
Depression is a very common and debilitating condition. More than one in eight people will have an episode of depression in their lifetime and the majority of the patients who have an episode of depression end up having at least one more episode later in life. Depression involves losing motivation and interest in things, a decreased ability to enjoy life, and feeling sad or down. People suffering from depression may also have low energy, problems sleeping, too much or too little appetite, feelings of guilt and thoughts about death or even suicide. Depression can drastically affect somebody's ability to function interpersonally, socially, and at work. It affects the lives of the sufferers, their families and caregivers, and their employers and coworkers. From a broader view, it has a negative impact on the functioning of society at large.
Conquer your Fears
Fear saves our lives. Fear is a primal emotion that most animals feel because of its undeniable usefulness in keeping us safe. Just knowing that situations are dangerous is not enough. Only feeling afraid ensures we do our best to avoid danger. Therefore, feeling afraid or anxious is a way of adapting and surviving, and not intrinsically negative.
Having an anxiety disorder is, by definition, an abnormality in the way we experience anxiety, its source, its intensity, and our ability to use it to our advantage. Being clear about the goal of treatment has important practical implications. Is the objective to feel no anxiety? To function better? To prevent anxiety from getting in the way of achieving our goals?
Societies often make happiness a goal. Avoiding suffering in general, and fear in particular, is seen as a must. But millennia of evolution have made human beings that are remarkably good at keeping themselves and their loved ones safe. Evolution hasn't perfected the making of beings meant to be calm or happy.
Conquering your fears, rather than eliminating them is a hopeful, achievable and empowering approach to anxiety. Understanding our anxiety helps us ensure that our emotions are truly looking after our own best interests. Feeling anxious for the right reasons and at the right time helps us engage with the world in a way that makes our experiences meaningful and keeps us safe. Awareness of our anxiety and control over it can lead to a fulfilling purposeful life.