Depression is a devastating condition that impacts millions of lives each year. If left untreated, depression can be life-threatening. As thousands of studies have been conducted to better understand what causes depression and how to treat it, the medical community as a whole has a better grasp on this mental health condition now.
Here are six facts you’ll want to know about treating depression if you suffer from the condition or love someone who does.
Chronic and More Severe Depression Requires Combination Therapy
There are many forms of depression. Mild depression, also known as dysthymia, causes symptoms of depression but symptoms aren’t as strong. Mild depression lasts at least two years and presents periods of normal mood. For those suffering with mild depression, single treatment options, such as therapy or medication, are often effective. But, for those with chronic or more severe depression, combination therapy is best.
Combination therapy, which often includes cognitive behavioral therapy and medication, has proven to be extremely beneficial in treating those with severe depression. A study found that combined therapy outperforms single therapy options. If you meet the criteria for more severe depression, discuss combination therapy options with your doctor.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is Just As Effective as Medication
When most people think about treatment for depression, the first thing to come to mind is prescription medications, namely selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). But, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven to be just as effective. A study found that CBT was not more or less effective when compared to medications and other psychotherapies. The study also found that treatment is much more effective when CBT and medication are combined.
CBT focuses on modifying dysfunctional thinking and behavior to improve problem solving skills. The therapy works on the idea that how we perceive a situation has more impact on how we react versus the reality of the situation. CBT uses problem solving, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness, and solution focused therapy to improve a patient’s cognitive behavior.
Diet Impacts Depression Symptoms
What we eat plays a huge role in our overall health, but did you know that your diet may also impact your mood? Through a randomized controlled trial, a study found that dietary improvement is an effective treatment for those suffering from major depressive episodes.
The study found that healthier eating habits lead to reductions in depression symptoms. During the trial, participants ate a diet of vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and legumes. Participants also reduced alcohol consumption and processed foods.
Interpersonal Therapy is Useful
While depression treatment is tailored for each individual, more often than not, interpersonal relationships play a huge role in the recurrence of depression symptoms. Being involved in an abusive or unfulfilling relationship is likely to cause depression symptoms or make them worse Interpersonal therapy (IPT) addresses a variety of topics including:
- Interpersonal deficits (i.e. social isolation)
- Managing unresolved grief
- Difficult life transitions (i.e. divorce, retirement, etc.)
- Interpersonal disputes
With IPT, the hope is that the patient is able to undergo a social environment change that then impacts the onset and continuation of depression. The therapy has proven to be effective in children, adults, and even the elderly.
Long-Term Depression Treatment Is a Must
For all treatment options for depression, there is a risk for relapse. People who discontinue medication have a 40% risk of relapse within three years. By continuing medication, the risk drops to 18%. Relapse concerns stand true for CBT as well. Nearly a third of those who undergo CBT will relapse within a year. But, continued CBT sessions lessened relapse risk.
The bottom line is that treatment for depression is long-term and sometimes life-long. Those who suffer from depression should expect to undergo treatment for years, especially those with severe or long-term cases. Long-term treatment is effective in minimizing relapse rates and reducing symptoms from coming back to the surface.
Exercise Can Alleviate Symptoms
Though medically-monitored treatments such as medication or therapy are effective in treating depression, a simple lifestyle change has also proven to be effective in minimizing depression symptoms. Exercise is widely touted for keeping our physical health in line, but it’s also proven to be effective in boosting mood. High-intensity exercise causes the brain to release serotonin and growth factors, both of which improve brain function. New connections and heightened brain function boost and stabilize mood.
While exercise may not be something that seems appealing, forming a light exercise routine can do wonders for your mental health. Taking a brisk walk or swimming a few laps in the pool may be enough to minimize some depression symptoms. If nothing else, it provides a healthy coping mechanism for sufferers.
Knowledge is power. The better we understand depression and treatment options, the less of a stigma mental health disorders will become. The most important aspect to remember is that treatment is delivered on an individual basis. What works for one patient, isn’t guaranteed to work for another.
Article Submitted By Community Writer