Depression is not just a feeling of sadness or the temporary blues. It is a bona fide disease which can last for weeks, months or years. The sooner it is treated, the better the result will be. If someone is dealing with depression, the first step is to visit a primary care provider and describe one’s symptoms in detail. A doctor will ask questions and examine the individual to rule out any physical disease which could be causing similar symptoms. From there treatment options may be discussed to help get the individual started on the path to recovery.
Depression responds to many different treatments. What works fine for one person may not work as well for another person. Each person’s chemical makeup is a little different and sometimes more than one drug needs to be tried before the right fit is found. Some respond well to medication alone while others find that behavioral therapy is the best treatment and some patients require a combination of medication and therapy. Medication works to relieve symptoms while therapy helps people cope with life’s inevitable challenges.
About half of all patients suffering from depression notice improvement following the first treatment they try. For those who utilize medication, it is important to remember that medication takes time to saturate the bloodstream, so it is important to take the drug exactly as directed by one’s doctor and not to discontinue the drug without a doctor’s supervision.
One of the most commonly used types of medication for treating depression is antidepressants. Antidepressants work by normalizing the naturally occurring chemicals in the brain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — SSRIs — are the newest and most popular types; they have fewer side effects than the older antidepressant medications. It takes approximately six weeks for the full effect of the medication to kick in, so be patient and follow the prescription directions.
Therapy and other treatment options
Whether used independently or in conjunction with medication, different types of therapy have proved to be highly beneficial. Therapy can be done one-on-one or in a group setting depending on the needs of the individual. One commonly used therapy for the treatment of depression and other mental health disorders is Cognitive behavioral therapy – CBT.
CBT is a very useful tool in the treatment of depression. It was originally designed to treat depression specifically and is now used in treating a number of mental health disorders. A therapist works one-on-one with a patient and the goal is to solve current problems by changing unhelpful patterns of thought which lead to counterproductive behaviors. It is problem focused, meaning it is used to treat specific problems and action oriented, meaning that the therapist assists the client to select specific strategies to address the problems. In a nutshell, the goal is to rid the patient of self-defeating behavior.
Other types of therapies that can prove helpful in treating depression include Solution Focused Brief Therapy, Interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy and more. Additionally people have the option to pursue alternative methods of therapy such as yoga, equine therapy, art therapy or medication.
Meditation has been found to be a useful method for relieving stress and tension. Many studies have found that mindfulness meditation improves mood and reduces stress. It isn’t complicated and doesn’t have to take too much time. An individual simply finds a quiet place, indoors or out and may sit cross-legged or on a chair, keeping one’s back straight to prevent falling asleep. One can close their eyes or focus on an object if they prefer and then simply focus fully on their breathing to the exclusion of everything else. Then direct one’s consciousness toward emotions, thoughts and sensations in the present moment, carefully separating singular experiences from emotions.
If you have a depressed friend or family member, it’s important to help get them diagnosed and treated. Many people with depression are reluctant to seek help so you may need to make an appointment for them and encourage them to visit their doctor and perhaps accompany them to their appointment. For a person suffering from depression, the support and encouragement of someone who cares makes a big difference.
If you have symptoms of depression lasting for more than two weeks, find help. Begin with your primary physician who may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist or other clinician. You may also utilize social workers, therapists and trained counselors. There is help for you, you just need to take the first step.
The Arizona Depression Helpline is available as a resource for those looking for help with depression. We provide information depression and treatment options and can connect you or your loved one with a treatment program and facility that can give you the help you need. To find out more about how you can find help today, feel free to call the Arizona Depression Helpline at any time.