May 24, 2024

How Can Depression Be Treated?

Depression can be treated using a combination of methods.  While some depression patients can be treated using only one treatment method, most patients require a combination of two or more treatment styles.  Antidepressants, psychotherapy, and shock therapy are depression treatment options, as are alternative treatments.


Antidepressants treat depression by increasing the amount of certain chemicals in the brain that have been reduced by the onset of depression.  Most doctors prescribe more modern SSRIs and SSNIs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Cymbalta, although older antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors may also be prescribed if the former two types do not work.  Antidepressants alone are usually not strong enough to treat depression alone and are often combined with psychotherapy for maximum effectiveness.

Individual and Group Therapy

Psychotherapy is what many think of when they think of psychiatric treatments–although most people’s concepts of psychotherapy are decades out of date.  Psychodynamic therapy does involve examining the patient’s suppressed memories and feelings, although patients will not necessarily be confessing all to a bearded doctor from the position of a couch.  Cognitive behavioral therapy involves changing the way a patient thinks and reasons by helping him or her to see actions and behaviors in a more positive light.  Interpersonal therapy helps patients overcome negative emotions that are often associated with a particular incident or person, assisting patients with personal interactions with friends and acquaintances.

Shock Therapy

Shock therapy may sound terrible, but it is safe when performed by a competent physician.  Electroconvulsive therapy is the most common type of shock therapy and is most often prescribed for bipolar patients.  Physicians anesthetize a patient’s scalp, apply small electrodes to the scalp, and send a gentle pulse of energy into the brain that causes a brief seizure.  Vagus nerve stimulation stimulates the vagal nerve in the brain, reducing the symptoms of long-term depression.  Transcranial magnetic stimulation relieves symptoms of minor cases of depression by targeting a specific area of the brain with a mild magnetic pulse.

Alternative Remedies for Depression

Alternative therapies outside the realm of established medicine also exist; patients should consult their physicians before attempting any natural treatment besides the prescribed treatments.  Acupuncture, yoga, and massage therapy are physical alternate forms of therapy, while natural remedies such as St.  John’s Wort, Folic Acid, and Omega-3 fatty acids are supplemental treatments preferred by some depression patients.  Some of these treatments may react badly with antidepressants, so patients should tell physicians when taking these supplements.


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