Clinical depression is a treatable illness
Clinical depression is one of the most treatable medical illnesses and getting treatment can save lives. The most commonly used treatments are antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. The choice of treatment depends on how severe the depressive symptoms are and the history of the illness. When you talk to your doctor and/or other mental health professional, it is important to explore the range of treatment options.
The symptoms of depression are caused by imbalances in chemicals in the brain and other parts of the body that influence things like mood, sleep, and how much energy we have. Antidepressant medication acts on chemical pathways of the brain. There are many extremely effective antidepressants. The two most common types are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Recent research strongly supports the use of medication for the more severe episodes of clinical depression.
Antidepressant medications are not habit-forming. It may take up to eight weeks before you notice an improvement. It is usually recommended that medications be taken for at least four to nine months after the depressive symptoms have improved. Those with chronic depression may need to stay on medication to prevent or lessen further episodes.
As with any medication, side effects may occur. Make sure you are under the supervision of a doctor or other qualified mental health professional to ensure the best treatment with the fewest side effects.
Talking with a trained mental health professional can help teach better ways of handling problems. Therapy can be effective in treating clinical depression, especially depression that is less severe. Scientific studies have shown that short term (10-20 weeks) courses of therapy are often helpful in treating depression.
Cognitive/behavioral therapy (CBT and REBT) helps change negative styles of thinking and behavior that may contribute to clinical depression.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on dealing more effectively with other people, working to change relationships that can cause or worsen clinical depression.
As an alternative to prescription medications, there are many depression sufferers who have gotten relief from herbal and all-natural supplements. Learn more about the latest all-natural depression relief here.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is radical treatment that may be recommended in the following cases:
when people cannot take or do not improve with medication
when the risk of suicide is high, or
if someone is debilitated due to another physical illness.
ECT has been improved to make it a safer and more effective form of treatment. It is intended for the more severe depressions and for patients who either cannot tolerate medication because of a medical condition or who are at immediate risk for suicide.
It still remains a controversial treatment for some people who may experience troubling side effects such as memory loss. A thorough discussion between patient and doctor needs to take place when ECT is being considered.
Making the most of your treatment
Make treatment a partnership
Treatment is a partnership between the person with clinical depression and their health care provider. Be sure to discuss treatment options and voice your concerns with your doctor or therapist. Become informed - ask questions and demand answers.
Take medications wisely
Don't stop taking your antidepressant medication too soon or without your doctor's knowledge. Inform your doctor about any side-effects. Remember, it may take up to eight weeks before you start feeling better. It is usually recommended that you take your medication for four to nine months after you feel better in order to prevent a recurrence of clinical depression. Carefully follow your doctor's instructions to be sure you take a sufficient dose.
Change your treatment or get a second opinion
Treatment changes may be necessary if there is no improvement after six to eight weeks of treatment, or if symptoms worsen. Trying another treatment approach, another medication, or getting a second opinion from another health care professional may be appropriate.
Join a patient support group
In addition to treatment, participation in a patient support group can also be very helpful during the recovery process. Support group members share their experience with the illness, learn coping skills and exchange information on community resources.
Take care of yourself
Take good care of yourself during treatment for clinical depression. Be sure to get plenty of rest, sunshine, exercise and eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. Reducing the stress in your life will also help. Share this information with your family and friends and ask for extra support and understanding. Many people also find strength and support through their religious affiliations.