What Are the Best Treatments for Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that can cause problems with your mood and your daily life. It can also affect your physical well-being. In severe cases, it can make you feel hopeless and worthless. It can also lead to self-harm and suicide.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating depression, so it may take some trial and error to find a treatment that works best for you. There are medicines, talk therapies and lifestyle changes that can help manage symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.
Antidepressants are the most common treatment for depression. They work by affecting the chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. They take about 4 to 6 weeks to have an effect, so it’s important to keep taking them until you notice results.
Medicines that treat depression by changing the way your brain thinks, called neuromodulators, are another common option. They have side effects that include drowsiness and dissociation (difficulty thinking or feeling), but they are very effective at treating depression in some people.
Psychotherapy can be used alongside medication and is often as effective or more effective than antidepressants alone. It aims to reduce negative thoughts and behaviours, improve relationships and help you deal with your stress. It may involve talking with a therapist for a short period of time, or over many sessions.
Other options for depression include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies, which work by passing electrical currents through your body to stimulate your brain’s nerve cells. These are usually used when medicines don’t work, and can be particularly helpful for people who have long-term or severe depression.
ECT can be useful when medications aren’t working or for patients who don’t respond to other treatments, but it is a very expensive treatment. It is also likely to have some side effects, so it’s not always available for everyone.
There are some natural products that have been found to help with depression, but these should not be taken without the advice of a healthcare professional. Some people use vitamin D supplements or the herbal dietary supplement St. John’s wort to help with their depression.
A doctor can test your mental health and rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms. This is done with a careful mental health exam and medical history.
In addition to the above, if you’re having suicidal thoughts or plans, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or message its live online chat service for immediate support from a trained counselor.
The earlier you seek help for depression, the sooner you can begin to feel better. If you don’t get help and your depression gets worse, it can be hard to recover.
Your GP or other healthcare professional can provide a diagnosis and treat your depression, and you can start to improve quickly. They can also refer you to a psychiatrist, who is a specialist in mental health.
You’re more likely to get depression if you have a family history of it, or if you have certain personality traits that make you more vulnerable. These include low self-esteem and being overly critical of yourself.