Treatment for depression is effective. The most common treatment options include psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medication. In some cases, a combination on the two is appropriate and is shown to be more effective than either treatment option alone.
Additional treatment options are available for more severe forms of depression. Following an initial assessment, your provider can help determine the most appropriate treatment for you.
While this is not a complete list of psychotherapeutic approaches, it includes some of the most common and effective approaches.
Psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” involves working with a trained professional to gain new skills, insight, and support to overcome depression and other mental health conditions. As described below, there are different types of psychotherapy available, including (1) general psychotherapy or counseling and (2) specific evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) that involve learning new skills for changing thoughts, behaviors, and/or patterns of social interaction that contribute to mental health conditions. This is not a complete list of psychotherapeutic approaches, but includes some of the most common and effective psychological treatments.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT helps individuals learn new ways of thinking and reacting to situations so that they have more balanced and helpful thoughts about themselves, others and the future. It also involves teaching new skills for getting more pleasure and meaning out of life.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps people get “unstuck” from and detach from their thoughts. It also focuses on taking positive actions and helping people make choices that align with their values. It uses strategies such as mindfulness and goal setting to help people recognize and achieve what truly matters to them in life.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) focuses on identifying, evaluating, and improving social or relationship issues that may contribute to depression. Treatment addresses one or more interpersonal domains, including grief, role disputes or transitions, and increasing skills for interacting more effectively.
Problem Solving Therapy (PST)
Problem Solving Therapy (PST) focuses on helping people improve their ability to cope with stressful life situations by teaching new skills for how to approach and solve problems.
General Psychotherapy involves working with a trained professional in a supportive relationship. The focus of treatment is usually non-specific and addresses general problems or challenges and lifestyle goals.
Medications designed to treat depression are known as antidepressant medications. Antidepressant medications work on chemical messengers in the brain called "neurotransmitters” -- the most common in depression being serotonin and norepinephrine.
Some of the most commonly prescribed, "newer" antidepressant medications include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Older antidepressants, such as tricyclics (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), may also be used based on symptoms and when response to newer antidepressants is limited.
In some cases, prescribers may recommend combining antidepressants or adding other medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety and stimulant medications.
While depression is a medical condition that benefits from professional treatment, some people find their symptoms improve by making certain changes alongside therapy and/or medication, such as physical activity/exercise, improving sleep and nutrition, and effectively managing stress.
In instances when treatment is not responsive to therapy for depression and traditional treatments described above, additional treatment options are available. These treatments include methods for safely applying electrical or magnetic stimulation to the brain and include transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
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