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How is depression treated?

The type of depression treatment your doctor recommends will be based on the type of depression you have.

23 June 2016

Depression is one of the most treatable mental illnesses, with treatment methods including psychotherapy, drugs in the form of antidepressants and self-help measures. For very severe cases, you may need a hospital stay or to attend an outpatient programme.

Your doctor or psychiatrist will be able to prescribe medication — and advise you of side effects — to relieve depression symptoms, but you could also benefit from consulting a psychotherapist or mental heath counsellor. 

Medication treats the symptoms of depression but does nothing about the causes. It is important that the mental health worker or doctor managing the person suffering from depression advises them on how to deal with the causes at the same time as treating them with medication.

Self-help methods to tackle milder forms of depression include lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, good nutrition, sufficient sleep and support groups in the form of friends, family and colleagues.

What should you know about antidepressants?

There are several types of antidepressants, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) 
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)
  • Atypical antidepressants

Your doctor will be able to advise you on what’s best for your needs and the side effects.

Antidepressants are considered equally successful, providing you take an effective dose for a sufficient period of time. Bear in mind though that response is individual in that a person may respond well to one medicine but not to another.

Antidepressants need to reach a certain dose before they begin to work, and the level of the dose varies for different antidepressants. For some you need to start low and build up to the effective dose.

Antidepressants don’t work immediately. For most people, a response occurs only after several weeks. For some, it may take a month and in elderly people even longer, perhaps as long as six or even eight weeks. It’s important to persevere in order to give the treatment a full chance to work. 

What kinds of therapies are available?

A number of therapies are recommended for depression. These include:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This is based on the theory that people’s emotions are controlled by their views and opinions of the world. 

Depression happens when people constantly reproach themselves, expect to fail, make wrong assessments of what others think of them, feel hopeless, and have a negative attitude towards the world. 

The therapist uses various techniques of talk therapy and behavioural prescriptions to identify and correct negative thought patterns.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy: This is based on the theory that disturbed social and personal relationships can cause depression. 

The illness, in turn, can make these relationships more problematic. The therapist helps the patient understand his or her illness and how depression and interpersonal conflicts are related.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: This is based on the premise that past experience, genetic factors and a person’s current reality determines behaviour. 

It recognises the effects that emotions and unconscious motivation can have on our behaviour.

Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments. These can include one or more of the following:

  • Medication to prevent mania episodes of mania, hypomania (less severe mania) and depression
  • Medication to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur
  • Learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
  • Psychological treatment, which helps you deal with depression and gives you the tools to improve relationships
  • Lifestyle advice such as regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, and advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep

Several medications are available to help stabilise mood swings. These are commonly referred to as mood stabilisers and include:

  • Lithium carbonate
  • Anticonvulsant medicines
  • Antipsychotic medicines

How Clicks can help you

You will need a prescription from your doctor for antidepressants, which you can get at Clicks Clinics. Speak to your Clicks pharmacist first if you are considering natural remedies to treat mild depression or anxiety. 

Read More: Depression Super Section