December 11, 2017

How to Beat Depression

Beating depression generally involves a combination of treatments tailored for an individual and/or a specific type of depression.  Doctors know that depression is often triggered by a variety of factors and that different forms of depression often require different types of treatment.

Depression Triggers

There are a variety of things and situations that can trigger depression.  Also the impact of these triggers can vary depending on the individual person. Some common depression triggers include:

 

  • The death of a loved one or the loss of a close friend
  • Child or spousal abuse
  • Serious illnesses and chronic pain
  • Certain prescription medications
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Life-changing events or intimidating social problems
  • Financial or job problems

General Depression Treatments

There are different types of depression, but doctors often use several general methods to treat most forms of depression.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants are often effective means of treating depression.  SSRIs and SSNIs such as Zoloft, Prozac, and Cymbalta help restore the balance of chemicals in the brain and assist the brain with proper function.  Tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors are older drugs that may be tried when newer, more modern antidepressants fail, but doctors and patients alike generally prefer the milder side effects of SSRIs and SSNIs.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy involves patients visiting counselors, psychiatrists, or other mental health professionals who help patients work through the mental issues that are causing depression.  Cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy all help the patient improve their thought processes as well as social interactions, reducing their depression symptoms.  Some of these treatments only last for a few weeks or months, while others might last for years or for the rest of the patient’s life.

Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture have helped some depression patients find relief from their symptoms.  These therapies often help patients relax and focus, reducing the stress that often accompanies depression.  Some depression sufferers also take herbal supplements such as St.  John’s Wort or add Omega-3 fatty acids to their diets in order to relieve depression symptoms.   For a list of natural remedies for depression, click here.  Patients should always consult their physicians before engaging in any form of alternative depression treatment.

Specific Depression Treatments

In addition to antidepressants, psychotherapy, and alternative treatments, doctors often prescribe treatments that address particular aspects of specific types of depression.

Major Depression

Major Depression is often successfully treated with general depression treatments, but more severe cases may require something like electroconvulsive therapy in order to improve.  This form of treatment involves sending small electric pulses into the brain in order to induce small seizures, relieving some of the depression symptoms.  Vagus nerve stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation are also shock-based therapies that help treat major depression.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is often treated with a drug combination of antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics due to the complex mental nature of the disorder.  Lithium carbonate and valproic acid are the most popular bipolar disorder drugs, although bipolar disorder sometimes proves resistant to medication.  The shock therapies are also sometimes effective for more resistant cases, as are all types of psychotherapy.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that encompasses manic and depressive extremes, so patients are often treated depending on which extreme they are currently experiencing.  Most bipolar patients are long-term depressant, meaning they will need maintenance treatment indefinitely due to the likelihood of recurring manic-depressive episodes.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression affects women who have given birth recently and react to the sharp decrease in hormonal production following giving birth.  This type of depression affects women differently and in various degrees; regular Post-partum Depression is treatable with regular antidepressants, psychotherapy, and support groups, while more extreme cases require the prescription of antipsychotics and even hospitalization.

While some women are reluctant to take antidepressants while breastfeeding, many doctors believe this to be a safe practice.  Women concerned about taking antidepressants while breastfeeding should consult their physicians about the potential risks and benefits.

Chronic Depression

Chronic Depression is also known as Dysthymia and is a milder but longer-lasting form of depression.  Patients suffer from typical depression symptoms but find that antidepressants and psychotherapy most often ease the symptoms.  The primary threat posed by Chronic Depression is not one of intensity but rather one of duration, since these mild symptoms often last longer than the more severe ones experienced by Major Depression patients.

The milder nature of these symptoms should not make patients treat Dysthymia lightly since untreated Chronic Depression can develop into a combination of Dysthymia and Major Depression referred to as Double Depression.

seasonal affective disorderSeasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs when depression patients react negatively to the change of seasons.  Typical Seasonal Affective Disorder occurs during the darker Winter months, but some instances of Summer SAD do occur.  Some doctors believe Seasonal Affective Disorder to be triggered by the decrease in natural sunlight that occurs during the winter months, so they often prescribe light therapy to help treat Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Phototherapy involves sitting near a bright, full-spectrum light box for about half an hour a day; Dawn Simulation mimics the rising sun in a patient’s bedroom, gradually brightening in coordination with the natural dawn.  Given the predictable nature of SAD, doctors often recommend that chronic Seasonal Affective Disorder patients should start their treatments before the onset of Winter or Summer.

Atypical Depression

Atypical Depression is, in spite of its name, treatable with most general depression treatment methods.  Antidepressants and psychotherapy are the most effective means of treating this type of depression wherein patients have fewer depression symptoms than those who have Major Depression.

Unlike Major Depression, Atypical Depression allows for mood reactivity, meaning that patients’ moods can be positively affected by outside influences.  This makes talk therapy affective for this type of depression, particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Psychotic Depression

Psychotic Depression often requires a hospital visit due to the potentially dangerous manifestation of its symptoms.  People who suffer from Psychotic Depression often experience delusions, hallucinations, and suicidal tendencies, and the treatments require constant professional supervision.  Treatment is often a combination of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and electroconvulsive therapy, and Psychotic Depression patients usually recover within a year.  As with most depression sufferers, however, patients should always be mindful of the possibility of future depression bouts.

Conclusion

None of these treatments is an affective means of beating depression if the patient does not faithfully complete each treatment; depression patients should always take their prescribed medications on time and should never miss a psychotherapy session.  Patients should also eat healthier diets, exercise more, get a good night’s sleep, and avoid unhealthy foods and practices.

 

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