Depression is a serious mental health condition that affects many thousands of people globally. In the UK alone 3% of people suffer from some form of clinical depression, with numbers rising as high as 20% for more general thoughts of suicidality. As such, understanding proper treatment options for depression is an important element of patient care. This article highlights the primary paths available when treating depression.
It should be noted however that no resource is better than a qualified health practitioner. If you believe you are suffering from depression or another mental health condition, contact your GP for an official diagnosis and in order to gain access to appropriate treatment.
What kind of Treatments can work for Depression?
Coming up with a treatment plan for depression requires a doctor to classify how severe your depression is, ranging from mild to severe. In the case of mild depression, your GP will often ask you to wait a while and see if there are any natural improvements; usually there would be a follow-up appointment within a fortnight to discuss what, if any, progress has been made.
For mild depression, doctors will often recommend a self-help regime. Oftentimes, doing the simple things outlined in such a regime will massively reduce the impact of the depression.
Treating depression can include self help measures whereby the patient takes steps themselves to minimise mild cases. Examples of some possible self-help measures the patient can take (without even needing an official diagnosis) include:
- Avoiding Drugs and Alcohol: Many, many people turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape from depression; this will only worsen the condition. Ignoring the other health side-effects of drug usage, reliance will inevitably lead to addiction, which only amplifies all the problems you are facing .
- Starting an Exercise routine: Multitudes of studies have shown that exercise helps manage the symptoms of depression. Deciding to exercise can give you goals to set that can help you look forward to a future result, and boosts your energy levels.
- Doing your Hobbies, or something you find fun: Making the effort to partake in things you enjoy like spending time with a pet, drawing, playing music, can help provide another avenue of escape that is healthier and more fulfilling than alternatives like drug usage.
- Balancing your diet: Depression can have various effects on your eating habits, be they overeating, undereating, or eating ‘comfort foods’. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will keep your body healthy and hopefully help give you a boost of energy to get through the day.
- Trying Volunteering: This will obviously depend a lot on the amount of free time you have, and as always only apply to certain people, but volunteering can help you find a place you feel like you can fit in. Alternately, it might just be something that gives you an excuse to get out of bed and do something; giving your time to others may help you feel better about yourself. Having the responsibility that comes with volunteering may also help you reorient your goals, and give you a sense of self-worth.
- Using Online Support: Online communities such as Big White Wall or Elefriends can provide you the social contact that helps many with depression, without the added stress of actively travelling somewhere, or through sidestepping possible social anxiety through face-to-face or phone contact.
However, many people find that their depression won’t improve after a short span of time, and other interventions may be necessary in a doctor’s eyes. In such cases (defined here as mild to moderate depression), a doctor will possibly start recommending talking therapies.
Talking therapies can take multiple forms, but fundamentally all boil down to talking with a professional about particular aspects of your life, thinking, or behaviour.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy involves discussing your way of thinking so as to change your future thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Interpersonal therapy focuses on dealing with issues that arise within your relationships, particularly when it comes to bereavement or communication troubles you are having.
Counselling is often prescribed to those in a good state of health, but have intense difficulties dealing with specific issues such as anger, loss, sudden unemployment, or other such issues. It is about discovering new ways of dealing with the issues you are facing and having the support to try out new ideas.
Psychodynamic therapies are an attempt to uncover unconscious patterns in your thoughts and behaviours that may be causing you more harm than good, and is done by literally speaking whatever comes into your mind to a trained therapist.
Talking treatments are some of the most effective medical interventions for dealing with mental health problems, but for people suffering from the most intense (moderate to severe) depression they might not be enough. For these cases, the option of medication is available.
Antidepressants are typically reserved for the most dangerous of depressions, usually when somebody is at serious risk of injury to themselves or others. Each type of antidepressant works differently, but all have the goal of treating the symptoms of depression.
However, it is very important to do exactly what the doctor tells you to do with regards to antidepressants; we know that they alter brain chemistry (often through manipulating serotonin -the ‘happiness chemical’-), but we don’t actually understand the physical mechanisms underpinning antidepressants. As such, suddenly stopping taking your medication or taking too much can lead to serious side effects.
Furthermore, severe depression is usually treated with something known as combination therapy. This is where antidepressants are prescribed as well as one of various talking therapies, since this maximises the chance of successful treatment and the multi-faceted approach is more holistic.
Tutorcare is a national training provider. Our courses include e-learning and on-site training for over 600 courses. Available to individuals and groups our Depression Awareness course deals with the root causes of depression, discusses the signs and symptoms and offers further insight into treating depression.
Treating Depression – Further Reading:
The NHS website has information about the treatments of depression, as well as more information about its causes and symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/clinical-depression/treatment/
As well as this, the NHS website also provides information about the risks, benefits, and types of antidepressants, as well as more detailed information on various therapies: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antidepressants/