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Depression Help – Where to Start

The crucial first step in addressing depression is obtaining a professional screening for depression. Recognizing depression symptoms is vital, including persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, changes in sleep and appetite, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Feeling low is a natural and common emotional response to life’s ups and downs, and it usually passes with time. However, if these feelings persist for an extended period or become more severe, it could be an indication of depression. When these signs persist for two weeks or more and significantly impact daily life, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional. It can be beneficial to confide in a trusted friend or family member and discuss your feelings openly to receive emotional support.

Only a licensed mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed clinical social worker or counselor can properly diagnose a patient with depression. They have the training and expertise to evaluate the symptoms, severity, and duration of a patient’s depressive episode and determine if it meets the criteria for a diagnosis of depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A thorough assessment may include a clinical interview, a review of the patient’s medical history, and psychological tests.

Upon receiving a diagnosis, the mental health professional can discuss various treatment options, including therapy, medication, or a combination of both. They will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Seeking professional help is a proactive and necessary approach to finding relief and healing from depression. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone, and there is support available to help you on your journey to recovery.

Treatment Options for Different Depression Types

There are several types of depression. Most likely, your mental help professional will identify your type of depression during the screening process, before deciding on the best way to treat it.

Major Depressive Disorder Treatment

Major depression, also known as clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities that one used to enjoy.

These feelings are severe and last for at least two weeks, affecting a person’s ability to function normally in their daily life. Symptoms may also include changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Major depression is a serious illness that can impact a person’s quality of life and ability to function. The treatment options for major depressive disorder (MDD) typically include a combination of Psychotherapy options such as Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and psychodynamic therapy and Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These medications can help regulate neurotransmitters in the brain that play a role in mood regulation.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): TMS is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It is used when other treatments have not been effective in treating depression.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): ECT is typically reserved for severe cases of depression or when other treatments have not worked. It involves sending electric currents through the brain to trigger controlled seizures, which can positively affect brain chemistry.

Lifestyle changes: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can complement other treatment approaches. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress reduction techniques can all contribute to improved mood.

Support groups: Joining support groups or participating in group therapy can provide a sense of community and understanding, helping individuals cope with depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder Treatment

Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD), also known as dysthymia, is a form of chronic depression lasting for at least two years. Treatment options for PDD are similar to major depressive disorder and may include psychotherapy, medication (antidepressants), lifestyle changes, and support groups. The difference lies in its chronic nature, as PDD symptoms are milder but persist for a more extended period. Psychotherapy, particularly Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help individuals identify and modify negative thought patterns over time. Medication may be prescribed for severe cases, and lifestyle changes can play a crucial role in managing symptoms. Consistent, long-term support is often essential for effectively managing PDD.

Postpartum Depression Treatment

 Postpartum depression (PPD) is a type of depression that affects new mothers within the first year of giving birth. It is a serious mental health condition that can impact a mother’s ability to care for herself and her baby. Fortunately, PPD is treatable with a range of effective treatments including psychotherapy, medication, hormone therapy, and support groups. It is important to seek treatment for PPD as soon as possible to minimize the impact on the mother and her family. LifeStance offers a wide range of Postpartum Depression Treatments available including new breakthrough medication options like Zulresso.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment

 Previously known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this type of depression usually occurs during the winter and fall months when there is less daylight,  due to reduced sunlight exposure. Treatment options for SAD include light therapy, also known as phototherapy, which involves exposure to bright artificial light to mimic natural sunlight. This helps regulate the body’s internal clock and may alleviate symptoms. Used to offset SAD for decades, light therapy has been an effective treatment for some suffering from SAD. It exposes people with SAD to a very bright light box (10,000 lux) every day for about 30 to 45 minutes, usually first thing in the morning, from fall to spring. This tries to make up for the lack of natural sunshine in the winter months. The light boxes are much brighter than ordinary indoor light and filter out damaging UV light. Additionally, psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals cope with seasonal changes and develop healthy coping mechanisms. In some cases, antidepressant medications may be prescribed. Embracing outdoor activities and maintaining a balanced lifestyle, such as exercise and proper nutrition, can complement treatment effectiveness for SAD.

Treatment Resistant Depression Treatment Options

Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) refers to cases where standard therapies, such as psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, have not successfully alleviated symptoms. In such situations, several alternative treatment options can be considered. One option is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which involves controlled electrical stimulation of the brain to induce seizures, leading to improvements in mood. Another option is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate specific brain regions. Ketamine infusion therapy has also shown promise in rapidly reducing depressive symptoms. Innovative approaches, like deep brain stimulation (DBS) and psychedelic-assisted therapies, are being researched as potential interventions for TRD. It is crucial for individuals with TRD to work closely with mental health professionals to explore these options and find the most suitable treatment plan.

Depression can also occur as a symptom with other mental health conditions:

Psychotic Depression: Psychosis can involve delusions, false beliefs and a detachment from reality. It can also involve hallucinations. Treatment options for psychotic depression typically combine both antidepressant medications and antipsychotic medications to target the depressive and psychotic symptoms simultaneously. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered in cases of severe or treatment-resistant psychotic depression. Alongside medication, psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or supportive therapy, can aid in managing underlying emotional issues. Early intervention and close collaboration with mental health professionals are crucial in providing effective treatment and improving the overall outcome for individuals with psychotic depression.

Bipolar Disorder: Depression is a common symptom of Bipolar Disorder. People who have been diagnosed with  Bipolar disorder often experience periods of depression that may last weeks. They also experience periods of mania, which is an elevated mood that may cause a person to feel very happy, aggressive, or out of control. Medication management is vital to stabilize mood swings, with mood stabilizers prescribed to manage manic or hypomanic episodes and antidepressants used cautiously to avoid triggering manic symptoms. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can help individuals develop coping strategies and manage depressive symptoms while minimizing triggers for mania. A strong support system, including family and friends, plays a crucial role in monitoring mood fluctuations and encouraging adherence to treatment.

Where Top Get Depression Help

Getting depression treatment at a mental health care clinic such as LifeStance with multidisciplinary team of mental health care providers can offer several benefits, including:

  1. Comprehensive Treatment: A mental health care clinic with multiple types of mental health care providers can offer a comprehensive treatment approach to depression. This means that you may receive treatment from a team of experts, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, who can provide a range of treatment options tailored to your unique needs including therapy and medication management.
  2. Holistic Care: A clinic with multiple types of mental health care providers can offer holistic care that addresses all aspects of your mental health, including your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. This type of care can help you achieve a more complete recovery from depression.
  3. Coordinated Care: A clinic with multiple types of mental health care providers can offer coordinated care, which means that your treatment team will work together to ensure that you receive the most effective and efficient treatment possible. This can help reduce the risk of treatment gaps or overlaps, leading to better outcomes for you.
  4. Access to a Range of Treatments: A clinic with multiple types of mental health care providers can offer access to a range of treatments for depression, including medication, psychotherapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, and more. This means that you may have more treatment options available to you, which can increase the likelihood of finding a treatment that works for you.
  5. Support Network: A clinic with multiple types of mental health care providers can provide a support network for you. This means that you may have access to support groups, peer support, and other resources that can help you manage your depression and improve your mental health over time. Depression treatment often necessitates a multidisciplinary approach involving various mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors. Each professional brings unique expertise to address different aspects of the condition. Being treated in a clinic ensures access to a range of services, collaborative care, and a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs, increasing the likelihood of successful outcomes.
  6. Hospital and Residential Treatment: This may be necessary if you can’t care for yourself properly or when you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else. Psychiatric treatment at a hospital can help keep you safe until your depression subsides. Partial hospitalization or day treatment programs also may help. These programs provide the outpatient support and counseling needed to get symptoms under control.

Therapy & Counseling for Depression

Psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression by talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional. Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy or psychological therapy.

Different types of psychotherapy can be effective for depression, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Interpersonal Therapy. Your mental health professional may also recommend other types of therapies. Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Adjust to a crisis or current difficulty
  • Identify negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones
  • Explore relationships and experiences, and learn to develop positive interactions with others
  • Find better ways to cope with and solve problems
  • Identify issues that contribute to your depression and change behaviors that make it worse
  • Regain a sense of satisfaction and control in your life and help ease depression symptoms such as hopelessness and anger
  • Learn to set realistic goals for your life
  • Develop the ability to tolerate and accept distress using healthier behaviors

In-Person Therapy

In-person therapy is a form of mental health care that is provided face-to-face with a mental health professional. Until recently, this is what most people thought of when they pictured traditional therapy. LifeStance has over 600 clinics nationwide offering in-person therapy appointments.

Online Therapy

Also known as telehealth, this form of therapy allows you to meet and interact with a therapist on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Online therapy  has now been proven to be as effective as in-person therapy.

Depression Medication Treatment

Many types of antidepressants are available, with new ones coming out regularly. Please see our Depression Medication Management Services for the comprehensive list of options.

Alternative Treatments, Natural Remedies and Supplements for Depression

People often look for alternative therapies to help with their depression. However, there is little evidence that alternative therapies can treat depression. In some cases, particularly with major depression, it can actually be dangerous if they are used in place of conventional treatments. It is important to note that none of these alternative treatments are recommended for people who are or may be living with bipolar disorder.

Some people use natural remedies or supplements, such as herbal medicines, to treat their mild to moderate depression. However, since the FDA does not approve herbal remedies or supplements, the quality varies widely. Some of these natural remedies may not be safe or effective and can sometimes lead to other health issues.

Self-diagnosing your own condition and self-subscribing herbs, plants, supplements and other remedies is a tricky business, and can lead to further depression when nothing that you do helps. If you want to do this it is still essential to speak to your doctor before using any type of herbal remedy or supplement. Some herbs can interfere with the effectiveness of drugs you are already taking, and some can make your symptoms worse.

Herbs and Plants

St. John’s Wort: Some people report a lessening of depression with this herb.  Although it may be helpful for mild or moderate depression, use it with caution. St. John’s wort can interfere with many medications, including blood-thinning drugs, birth control pills, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS medications and drugs to prevent organ rejection after a transplant. Also, avoid taking St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants — the combination can cause serious side effects.

Ginseng: Practitioners of traditional medicine may use this to improve mental clarity and reduce stress.

Chamomile – Chamomile contains flavonoids that can have an antidepressant effect.

Lavender: Some people feel that lavender helps reduce anxiety and insomnia.

Saffron, a spice derived from the Crocus sativus flower, has gained attention for its potential role in depression treatment. Some research suggests that saffron may have antidepressant properties, likely attributed to its active compounds, such as safranal and crocin.

Studies have shown that saffron supplementation could be effective in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, and it may work by influencing neurotransmitter systems in the brain, particularly serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, and many antidepressant medications target this system.

While saffron appears promising, more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness and potential side effects. It’s important to note that saffron is not a replacement for traditional depression treatments, such as psychotherapy or medication, particularly in severe cases of depression.

Non-herbal Supplements

SAMe: People sometimes take S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) which is a synthetic form of a natural chemical produced by your body. Some research has suggested that SAMe may be as helpful as the prescription antidepressants imipramine and escitalopram, but more investigation is necessary.

5-HTP: 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) also helps boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter in the brain that affects your mood.

Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential fats found in certain foods, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines) and some plant-based sources (flaxseeds and walnuts). Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may have potential benefits in reducing symptoms of depression.

The exact mechanisms by which omega-3s may help with depression are not fully understood, but they are thought to play a role in regulating neurotransmitters and reducing inflammation in the brain. Some studies suggest that omega-3 supplementation, especially with higher EPA content, can be beneficial in improving mood and reducing depressive symptoms.

DHEA, which stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone, is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It serves as a precursor to other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. DHEA levels tend to decline with age, and some studies have linked low DHEA levels with conditions like depression.

The use of DHEA for depression treatment is still an area of ongoing research and debate. Some studies suggest that DHEA supplementation may have potential antidepressant effects, particularly in individuals with low DHEA levels. It is believed to impact neurotransmitter activity and have neuroprotective effects on the brain. However, it is important to note that DHEA is not an FDA-approved treatment for depression, and its effectiveness is not yet fully established. Additionally, DHEA supplements may have side effects and can interact with other medications, so it should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Given the uncertainties and risks, using DHEA for depression treatment should be approached with caution.