Treatments for Depression
Depression is a complex disorder. Today most professionals believe depression is caused by an equal combination of biological, social, and psychological factors. Treating only one factor as the sole cause of depression can be over simplistic and ineffective. A treatment plan that adresses both the physical and mental factors in depression (i.e. drug treatment along with counselling) tends to be the most beneficial.
There are several drugs used for the treatment of depression. They belong to different
classes of drugs. These classes differ from one another in chemical structure and in the way they
affect brain chemistry. They act on different receptors or impulses in the brain, with some stimulating
and others blocking certain chemicals.
We are all different. Our brains and bodies react differently to medications. A drug that is wonderfully effective on one person's depression may not work at all for another person. A drug that causes severe side effects in one person may not cause any in another person. While the trial and error search for the right medication or combination of medications can be frustrating, don't give up hope. The variety of medications available increases the chances of finding the right one for you.
Non Drug Treatments
There are several different types of psychotherapy used in treatmenting depression
including cognitive, interpersonal, rational emotive, family and psychodynamic therapies. Psychotherapy
can be used alone, especially in very mild cases of depression, or in combination with drug treatment.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most popular and is used to change the patient's negative view of the world to a more balanced and realistic outlook. It is not concerned with causes of the depression so much as what a person can do, right now, to help change the way they are feeling.
The aim of interpersonal therapy is to help a patient improve personal relationships. This approach works on the thought that a person suffers directly from unhealthy relationships and works to create good, stable social support system. It seeks to improve a person's relationship skills, working on communication, expressing emotions, being assertive in social and occupational situations.
Family or couples therapy is very beneficial when depression is directly affecting the family. This type of therapy addresses the interpersonal relationships between family members. It seeks to improve communications and often examines the roles played by family members that reinforce depression in the patient. Educating the family or partner about depression in general is also an important part of this therapy.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
ECT is performed by treating a patient with muscle relaxants and putting him under
anesthesia. An electric shock is then used to produce a mild controlled seizure.
The side effects, which can include a short memory loss, are usually very mild and far outweighed by the positive effects and immediate relief this treatment can bring.
Electroconvulsive therapy is used primarily after other treatments have failed. It is also used for people who are severely suicidal or who are unable to tolerate medications. The rapid effectiveness is especially beneficial for severly suicidal people who are at risk of acting on their urges before drugs treatments can take effect and for people who are extremely depressed or extremely manic.