Depression is a serious condition affecting 1 in 7 Australians daily, sometimes stopping them from doing the things they once loved.
There are several types of depression that each have different symptoms and are treated accordingly. The different types of depression respond to different kinds of treatments. Common types of depression include major depression, seasonal depression, depression associated with bipolar disorder, melancholic depression and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia).
Depression can be experienced in various ways, although common signs of depression are:
- Having low levels of energy
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Withdrawing from hobbies
- Having trouble concentrating
- Feeling overwhelmed, empty or numb
- Having negative thoughts
- Feeling irritable or frustrated
- Feeling unhappy
- Thoughts that life is not worth living
- A loss or change of appetite
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Experiencing headaches and stomach/muscle pains
There are three broad options to treat depression:
- Self-help and alternative therapies
What is the best treatment for depression
Those with mild depression will often be monitored and advised by their doctors to implement lifestyle changes, for instance, in their exercise routine, diet, reduced substance use and sleeping patterns. Whilst those with more moderate and severe depression will usually be prescribed antidepressant prescription medicine and therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).
CBT aims to modify thought patterns by changing one’s mood and behaviour. This therapy is based on the consensus that negative feelings or actions result from unconscious forces, thoughts and beliefs. CBT combines cognitive and behavioural therapy, where therapists offer guidance through strategies and coping mechanisms to help identify negative thought patterns and behavioural responses to challenging situations. CBT is considered a short-term approach as you work backwards through your life to identify events that led to the mental challenges you are experiencing. Thus, making patients grounded, self-aware and reflective.
IPT is also considered a short-term approach, although it can be just as effective as taking antidepressant medicine to address interpersonal issues. The technique focuses on helping individuals manage their interpersonal relationships and issues, which helps manage their symptoms. IPT is commonly used to support individuals through the transitions in their relationships.
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What are some other ways to treat depression?
To further treat depression, your doctor will conduct a psychiatric evaluation,use diagnostic criteria ) and prescribe medication and non-medication approaches accordingly.
Types of medication that are most commonly used to treat depression typically fall under two main categories:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine inhibitors (SNRIs)
SSRIs are commonly used to treat moderate to severe depression by increasing the brain’s level of serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain nerve cells. SNRIs also treat depression, anxiety (link to anxiety blog) and chronic pain by influencing two neurotransmitters to improve one’s mood. SNRIs increase the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine, which stabilise mood and influence emotions, alertness and energy, respectively.
Less commonly used antidepressants include tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
In severe melancholic depression, where an individual has failed to respond to oral antidepressants, there is the potential for the use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is typically given as an inpatient and under the supervision of a psychiatrist.
Finally, in recent years novel treatments have emerged, such as ketamine for treatment resistant depression.
It is important to note that these medications have some side effects, which is why it is best to seek medical advice when you are experiencing symptoms of depression.
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Is there any alternative treatment for depression?
It is often discussed what the best treatment for depression is. Often the combination of therapy, along with medication as well as implementing lifestyle changes, can be the most effective. Conducting yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage therapy, and acupuncture are alternative therapies that have also been effective in treating depression along with other standard treatments.
Never forget that you are not alone. Depression is a very common mental health issue that many experience at some time in their life. You can always reach out to someone, and it is important to let someone close to you know how you feel. Reach out to a friend, family member or a doctor if you think that you might have depression or are experiencing symptoms of depression.
Helpful support lines:
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 – can chat online, call or email 24/7
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Mental health Line: 1800 011 511
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