How is Depression Treated?

Depression is a complex but treatable mental disorder. The right treatment approach can dramatically improve your quality of life.

Depression Part 3: Treatment Options for Depression

Estimated watch time: 8 mins 40secs 


Depression is a complex condition. There are environmental, genetic and other factors involved in depression. As such, treatments can also be complex. Treatment approaches include therapy, medication or a combination. Holistic treatments and lifestyle changes can also be useful.

This guide explores how depression is treated and the effects appropriate treatment can have on your life.

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Understanding Depression Part 3

This lesson will be on how to treat depression…

There is treatment for depression. And treatment depends on the severity of the depression, the cause of depression, and the individual’s need. We treat depression with therapy, medications, or most commonly by combining therapy and medications. Therapy can be used for mild, moderate and severe depression. However, moderate to severe depression usually requires older treatment interventions.

There are many types of therapy available to fit an individual.

Medications are used for moderate to severe depression, as mild cases of depression commonly do not require medications.

Depending on your situation, a medical provider and or clinician will recommend the type of therapy or therapies that would be most beneficial to you.

Speaking with a therapist would help you learn skills to cope with negative feelings. Some of the most common types of therapies used for depression include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy known as CBT, interpersonal therapy, group therapy, family therapy and support group therapy.

There are also some holistic alternatives to treat depression. Such as having a balanced diet.  And a balanced diet refers to having a good amount of food, vegetables, fruits, some protein and carbohydrates, as well as hydrating yourself.

Getting plenty of sleep is always important. And most people require about eight hours of sleep each night.

Having an active lifestyle.  This can be walking, jogging, swimming, cycling or walking out in the gym. Most research recommends three to five days of 30 minutes of physical activity. Remember, that exercise can increase endorphins in your body, which improve your mood.

Practicing meditation, practicing yoga.

Avoiding harmful substances such as drugs and alcohol.

Keeping yourself busy. Of course, with positive activities.

There are many types of medications used to treat depression, and your medical provider will prescribe you one or in many cases multiple medications, depending on the severity of your depression.

Now, finding the best medication is not always easy, and often it might take some time to find the right medication for you.

The most common types of medications to treat depression include antidepressants, which usually take several weeks to start working, and Mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, which both work a little bit faster than antidepressants in general.

Sometimes it is not feasible to wait several weeks if you are severely depressed.  And it is in situations like this that other medications might need to be added, such as adding a mood stabilizer or an antipsychotic at the same time.

There are several types of Antidepressants which include SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs and NDRIs.

SSRIs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which block the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, overall improving depression. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, are common medications used.

Then we have the SNRIs, which are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. These medications basically act by blocking the reabsorption of the serotonin and the norepinephrine in the brain and this improves depression by working on the reabsorption of these two neurotransmitters. Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq are common SNRIs used.

Then we have the TSAs, which are tricyclic antidepressants. These medications act as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. By blocking the serotonin and norepinephrine transporter, which results in an elevation of that synaptic concentration of these two neurotransmitters. TSAs have been around for a very long time. This class of medication is no longer commonly used to treat depression. But more commonly used to treat insomnia and medication resistant depression, due to the possible side effects. So you can often see a patient taking a SSRI such as Prozac and also a T.S.A. like doxepin at night for sleep.

Another type of antidepressant to mention, which is commonly used, is Wellbutin, which is actually a NDRI (norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors). So this is the only one here that is also working with the dopamine neurotransmitter.  Wellbutrin is often used to treat depression in males. And also to treat smoking sensations. And in many situations to treat attention deficit disorder.

And then we have the mood stabilizers, which are also used to treat other mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder.  And the mood stabilizers that are commonly known include Lamictal, Lithium and Depakote.  Now, keep in mind, mood stabilizers are not the first initial medication recommended just for depression, but often at times it is added to the initial regimen.

And then we have the antipsychotics which are used to treat mood disorders as well, such as bipolar disorders and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Very common used medications include Seroquel, Abilify, Latuda, and Zyprexa. Antipsychotics work pretty fast, and they are pretty efficient. However, when you are using antipsychotics to treat depression, they often use much lower doses than if you were to treat a schizophrenic patient.

Sometimes depression does not get better with therapy, medications and holistic alternatives. So what can be done then?

There are some effective treatments to mention. ECT is electroconvulsive therapy and it can be an effective treatment for depression, but also very effective in some types of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. In some severe cases of depression where a rapid response is necessary or medications cannot be used safely, ECT can even be a first line of intervention. ECT is a procedure done under general anesthesia in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in the brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental health conditions, such as depression.

And then there is rTMS, known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. In this procedure, a magnet is used to activate a specific part of the brain.  Again, it is believed that these simulations in the brain reverse certain symptoms of depression.

VNS, known as vagus nerve stimulation, is another type of treatment. This works through a device implanted under the skin that sends electrical pulses through the left vagus nerve.  These pulses appear to alter the levels of certain neurotransmitters, which are in the brain associated with mood including serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA and glutamate.

So keep in mind that depression is a complex mental illness caused by multiple factors. It is more common than you think. Proper diagnosis is key for an effective treatment. Living with depression can be difficult. Treating depression will help you improve the quality of life.

Thank you for choosing The Recovery Village.  If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse and would like to find out more about the programs we offer, please reach out to us directly at 855-387-3291.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.