If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, don’t worry, you are not alone. Depression is extremely common, with around 20% of people experiencing it at some point in their lifetime (uptodate.com).
The first important step is acknowledging your struggle and choosing to do something about it. Clinical depression is a medical condition that surpasses the feeling of everyday sadness.
The effects of depression can be so significant that they prohibit day-to-day functioning and yield long-term symptoms. It’s a highly treatable condition, with many treatment options available.
Depression that goes untreated can lower the quality of life and increase the risk of suicide. Therefore, it’s vital that if you suspect you have depression, you take steps to tackle it.
Keep reading to learn about the primary treatment options for depression and other coping strategies.
What Is The First Step In Treating Depression?
The first step to tackling your depression is recognizing that you are depressed and seeking a medical diagnosis. People with depression will find the initial stage of acceptance and seeking help very difficult.
Seeking a medical diagnosis from your doctor means you can discuss treatment options and receive the treatment that best suits your diagnosis.
The doctor will conduct a psychiatric evaluation and enquire about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The doctor may also conduct a physical evaluation, as some forms of depression are linked to underlying health problems (mayoclinic.com).
Your mental healthcare professional may also take a blood sample to check your thyroid functioning.
The sooner a person seeks to support, the sooner they can recover.
If you are at a stage where you are thinking about hurting or killing yourself, please take immediate action and seek help:
- Call a suicide & crisis lifetime in your region. In the United States, contact 988 via phone call or text.
- Or use webchat, and head to www.988lifeline.org/chat
- Call for an ambulance.
- Go to the emergency department at your local hospital.
- Call your doctor or nurse and inform them that it is an emergency.
What Are The Symptoms of Major Depression?
Symptoms of depression vary from person to person, with some individuals experiencing dozens of symptoms while others only experience one or two. If some of the following symptoms persist for more than two weeks, you may need to speak to a medical professional to receive a diagnosis and treatment:
- Prolonged feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy.
- Appetite changes and weight loss or gain.
- Lack of energy.
- Increased difficulty sleeping.
- Feelings of worthlessness.
- Relationship challenges.
- Social isolation.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- You are experiencing suicidal thoughts and feeling as if you would be better off dead.
What are three strategies for coping with depression?
Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of treatments and will vary depending on the type of depression you have. Treatment usually combines self-help, talking therapies, and medication (nhs.com).
The main types of treatment for depression can be categorized:
- Psychotherapy or “Talking Therapies.”
There are many psychotherapy options available, and ultimately, there is a type of therapy available for any kind of depression. The following are the most common forms of talking therapy (verywellmind.com).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT is a type of talking therapy that centers around changing negative thoughts and behavior patterns that may be contributing to your continual state of depression. The treatment focuses on current problems and creating coping strategies for the patients.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT):
Interpersonal therapy focuses on relationships with people around you, assuming that depression is linked to our relationships. In addition, the therapy works to create better means of communication and conflict resolution.
During psychodynamic therapy sessions, you work to uncover unresolved issues, conflict, and unhealed wounds.
The therapy focuses on the role of your past experiences in causing your depression and helps you to address these issues and move forward with your life.
Social Skills Training:
This form of therapy teaches you how to create and maintain healthy relationships. The therapy aims to help you build a robust social network with others, with clear lines of communication and improved interpersonal skills.
This form of therapy is more loose and free. It involves you sharing what’s on your mind and generally working through your problems and feelings, whatever they may be.
The counselor supports you in finding solutions to your problems without giving direct instructions. The counselor is there to support you, helping you reflect on your own life.
Family or Couples Therapy:
Couples or family therapy can be undertaken when the depression is thought to be affecting others around you or when issues need to be resolved with those in your life to progress with your treatment.
This form of therapy aims to help the patient avoid isolation, which can exacerbate symptoms of depression.
The therapy aims to increase the frequency of positive interactions with your environment, engaging you in more activities and improving your lifestyle.
You can find therapists and counselors in your area online or through your doctor. Additionally, you can go to betterhelp.com to book online therapy sessions.
- Medications, such as antidepressants.
Antidepressants can be helpful in coping with the symptoms of depression. They can help you resume everyday life and help keep you safe in terms of self-harm, panic attacks, and other physical manifestations of depression.
The effectiveness of antidepressants is debated, with many people considering antidepressants to be essential while others doubt their usefulness (ncbi.com).
However, antidepressants are often deemed more effective in moderate to chronic cases of depression. Ultimately, you need to discuss your options with your doctor and assess the right course of treatment for you.
It is thought that the combination of antidepressants and talking therapies is the best way to deal with depression long-term (forbes.com). This is because medication allows the brain to relax and be more open to psychotherapy.
Antidepressants are thought to be largely effective at managing symptoms of depression, but they do not deal with the root cause of the condition unless your depression is entirely biological.
Studies have shown that antidepressants improved the symptoms of depression in adults with moderate or severe depression by 20% (ncbi.com).
- Self-Help Strategies.
Self-help strategies can involve simple lifestyle changes, such as altering sleep patterns, diet, and exercise regimens.
For example, research has down that 20 to 40 minutes of exercise three times per week can help reduce symptoms of depression in both the short and long term (verywellmind.com).
Self-help strategies can be challenging to implement when dealing with a depressive episode, as people often struggle with energy levels and motivation. However, if you can implement any small, positive lifestyle changes, you will likely see the benefits.
Some depression treatment options are more invasive. However, these forms of treatment will not be considered until other options have been exhausted. Procedures may be implemented when the patient is not responding to other forms of treatment.
The procedure can include electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation (verywellmind.com). In these forms of procedures, electromagnetic currents are used to improve symptoms of chronic depression.
What Are Three Types of Drugs Typically Used to Treat Depression?
Some people will respond well to one antidepressant and not to another. So if you plan to use antidepressants, you may need to try more than one before finding the right fit.
When starting treatment on antidepressants, you should make regular check-in appointments with your doctor or health practitioner to assess the effectiveness of the medication or whether another treatment or different dosing is required.
If the antidepressant is helping with symptoms, you will most likely continue taking the medication for another 4 to 6 months, but some people can take medication for more than five years.
Many types of medication are available, with most antidepressants fitting into one of three categories: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), (SSRI and Selective Serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). The medication you take will depend on your condition.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is naturally occurring, but some people with depression have lower levels, and as such, it affects mood and mental state.
Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)
TCAs are most commonly used to ease symptoms of moderate to severe depression. They work in a similar way to SSRIs, raising serotonin levels in the brain, but they also increase levels of noradrenaline.
The combination of these chemicals is found to lift mood and ease depressive symptoms.
Selective Serotonin Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
SRNIs work to ease depression by effecting changes in brain chemistry and communication in brain nerve cell circuitry. SRNIs work in a similar way to SSRIs, with similar effects and side effects.
Is depression curable or just treatable?
The majority of people recover from major depression with the help of treatment.
However, this does not mean they responded to their first treatment. However, depression over recurs in about 35% of people, and 15% of people have ongoing symptoms (goodrx.com)
Depression is a chronic condition, and as such, it’s not easy to cure fully. The goal of most people who have experienced depression is to experience remission and you are able to manage symptoms comfortably.
Depression is highly treatable, and although it may not go away on its own, treatment options have been found to be extremely effective and allow individuals to lead very normal and fulfilling lives( verywellmind.com).
What Lifestyle Changes Might Help Treat Major Depressive Disorder?
It’s an excellent idea to incorporate small lifestyle changes to help manage depression symptoms. You can incorporate lifestyle changes alongside other treatments for depression or try these methods first before seeking therapy or medication.
Exercise has been found to reduce symptoms of depression significantly. The exercise does not have to be vigorous; it could even be a short walk or a quick game of catch. Any exercise you enjoy will be the most effective treatment. (exerciseastreatmentjournal).
- Having a Healthy Diet.
When experiencing a depressive episode, it’s especially important to have enough vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin b12, folate, and magnesium. Try to incorporate generous amounts of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet.
- Get Adequate Sleep.
Although having trouble sleeping is a primary symptom of depression, it is also vital in recovery. Taking steps to encourage good quality, long sleep will make recovery much easier.
What is the key to overcoming depression?
There are a few tips to ease symptoms of depression and prevent relapse. Although it’s unlikely any one strategy will cure depression, the combination of these strategies will ease symptoms and prevent regression:
- Do not withdraw from people.
Staying in touch with your friends and family can significantly improve your mood and allow you to talk to someone when you are feeling low. It can be easy to withdraw and hide away from the world, but it does not help with symptoms (nhs.co.uk).
Exercise helps boost mood and alleviate feelings of depression.
- Reduce consumption of alcohol.
Many people find alcohol a great comfort when depressed and use it as a coping mechanism. But unfortunately, alcohol can worsen depression.
- Don’t avoid scary tasks.
Depression can increase feelings of anxiety and reduce feelings of confidence. It’s important to continue going out, talking to people, and putting yourself in situations that scare you.
Experiencing symptoms of depression can be scary and overwhelming, and the last thing you feel like doing is seeking help. However, depression is a very treatable condition, and dozens of treatment options can be implemented to help.
Non-medicated treatment options are highly effective, with various kinds of therapies available. However, antidepressants can be utilized solo or alongside talking therapies to aid treatment and ease symptoms.
You can also implement self-care strategies to help with day-to-day functioning and form healthy habits to reduce the risk of recurring depressive periods.