The job of the medical expert is to make a distinction between the many different mood disorders and diagnose the patient with the particular sub-type of depression they might have. There are many disorders related to depression that include: major depression, chronic depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder, and manic disorder, among others.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tips for Treating Depression
- 1.1 Lifestyle Changes for Treating Depression
- 1.2 Psychotherapy as a Treatment for Depression
- 1.3 Medications as Treatment for Depression
- 1.4 Alternative Treatments for Depression
Tips for Treating Depression
- Gather as much information about your symptoms as possible. Symptoms can be reviewed by a medical professional to determine whether you are suffering from depression or another, similar disorder. Another factor is the severity of the depression. If depression is highly severe, the treatment will need to be more intensive.
- Take the time to pick the right treatment. It may take some time to find the treatment that works best for you and you may go through many trials and errors before finding the best solution.
- Do not solely rely on medications. Medications are known to relieve symptoms of depression in some cases, but are not suitable for all individuals. There are other treatments that can help, including cognitive therapy and exercise. They can be just as effective as some medications without the side effects.
- Commit yourself to the treatment. Treatment for depression can take time and can also feel overwhelming. This is quite normal, so it’s important to commit yourself to getting the treatment you need.
- Social support. Social connections are important. Talking to a friend or family member can help significantly. If you do not feel comfortable doing so, you can always reach out to a support group or therapist. It is sometimes easier to speak with someone who is going through the same things as you.
Lifestyle Changes for Treating Depression
- Regular exercise. Regular exercise can be very effective. Exercise boosts endorphins and serotonin, and triggers cell growth and neural connections. Even short walks or taking the stairs instead of using the elevator can make a huge difference. You can also try aerobics or resistance exercise.
- Nutrition. Physical and mental health can both improve with proper nutrition. Eating well-balanced meals everyday can help you maintain high energy levels and minimize mood swings.
- Healthy sleep habits. Insufficient sleep can decrease mood and overall health. Symptoms of depression can increase with little sleep, and sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, sadness, moodiness, and fatigue.
- Reducing stress. If you are suffering from depression, stress can only make things worse. It’s important to make life changes that can help to manage and reduce everyday stresses. Stress exacerbates depression and increases the risk for future depression.
Psychotherapy as a Treatment for Depression
Psychotherapy can be extremely effective when it comes to decreasing symptoms of depression and avoiding it altogether. There are many types of psychotherapy today. The most commonly used methods are cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psycho-dynamic therapy.
Therapies can be used to help individuals learn practical techniques, and ways to re-frame negative thinking and combat depression. The focus is usually on the root of depression and helping the individual to understand the cause of their depression.
Medications as Treatment for Depression
Medications can be used to relieve some symptoms of depression. In addition to other medications for depression, patients may be recommended to take antidepressants. These, combined with lifestyle changes, can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
Antidepressants are used to lift the mood of the patient. The key chemicals are typically serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. When networks in the brain lack these chemicals they cannot work properly, and this may lead to depression. Antidepressants are used to help these networks function better by tweaking the chemicals they use.
The most common types of anti depressants include:
- SSRI’s such as, Citalopram, Escitalopram, Fluvoxamine, Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, and Sertraline.
- SNRI’s such as Duloxetine, Desvenlafaxine, Venlafaxine, and Levomilnacipran.
- Tricyclic antidepressants mainly affect serotonin and norepinephrine levels. They are effective, but can result in more side effects than many other drugs.
- MAOI’s are an older treatment that works best in people who cannot be treated with other drugs. Side effects can occur if these medications are mixed with foods like cheese, aged meats, and certain medications. These include Phenelzine, Isocarboxazid, Tranylcypromine, and Transdermal selegiline.
- Stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs can also be prescribed in cases of depression. These are most commonly recommended for people who suffer from other physical or mental conditions, but they have to be used in combination with others to treat depression.
- Medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are also used in addition to antidepressants, in some cases.
Alternative Treatments for Depression
There are many alternative treatments for depression, including the following.
Herbal and vitamin supplements
It is not entirely clear how herbal and vitamin supplements work to treat depression. The are many different types of supplements available over the counter and many of them have been shown to help.
Nutrition deficiency can be associated with depression, and vitamin supplements may help combat this.
Some natural and herbal supplements may have side effects when used in combination with depression medications. Therefore, it’s important to inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any of these supplements.
Acupuncture is a technique that places needles in specific body points for therapeutic purposes, such as treating depression. This treatment has been increasingly researched recently and has been shown to be promising when it comes to treating depression.
Relaxation techniques help to not only relieve symptoms of depression, but can also reduce stress levels and boost positive feelings. These techniques include yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, and meditation, among others.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or electroshock therapy, is used to treat severe depression. This procedure involves sending painless electric current through the scalp to the brain. ECT is an effective and safe treatment that is typically recommended in cases where the patient does not respond to other treatments.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is often used to treat major depression in cases where antidepressants do not work. TMS uses an electromagnetic coil placed over the scalp. This coil creates a magnetic field that sends electrical current to the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This is a region of the brain that is known to control mood.
The differences between TMS and ECT are the following:
- TMS uses smaller electric currents
- TMS targets a specific part of the brain compared to ECT that targets the whole brain
- TMS does not cause a seizure
- Patients do not need to be sedated during TMS
- Both are safe, but ECT has been proven to be more effective
Treating depression is not an easy task, especially since treatment depends on many factors like depression type, health history, family health history, and symptoms. Patients who suffer from depression should find a professional to guide them through the entire treatment process. Medications are not the only treatment for depression, and it’s important to understand all treatment options and find the one that works best for you.
To read more about treatment for depression, please visit the links below:
- George, M. S. et al. (1995). Daily repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) improves mood in depression. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1996-20849-001
- Lisanby, S. H. (2007). Electroconvulsive therapy for depression. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMct075234
- March, J. et al. (2004). Fluoxetine, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and their combination for adolescents with depression: Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study (TADS) randomized controlled trial. https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/15315995
- Katzelnick, D. J. et al. (1996). Prescribing patterns of antidepressant medications for depression in a HMO. https://mayoclinic.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/prescribing-patterns-of-antidepressant-medications-for-depression