Depression is a mental health problem that affects millions of people across the world. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that 21 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2020 alone.
It is worth noting here that feeling down is not the same as depression. Everyone has periods where they feel sad or down, but depression is a mood disorder that causes individuals to feel persistently sad or upset. But more than that, it can cause them to lose interest in things that they once enjoyed. Individuals with depression often feel as though their life is simply not worth living anymore. It is important therefore that treatment is sought as soon as possible. But how is depression actually treated?
Treatments for Depression
For those with mild depression, a doctor might recommend various self-help techniques in the first instance. Some doctors will devise a plan with the patient that includes relaxation techniques, exercise, diet recommendations, or online therapy sessions. A doctor might also recommend some books on therapies designed to help those struggling with depression, such as those on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Those with mild depression often find that when they practice self-help strategies, their symptoms improve. Doctors usually schedule follow-up appointments to monitor the patient and see if there have been any improvements or if further treatment is necessary.
People with mild to moderate depression might be advised to participate in alternative therapies, such as talking therapy. This might include a group-based CBT program, one-to-one counselling, or a session of sound healing. The good folk at Maloca Sound say that therapies such as music and sound therapy are ideal for those struggling with the symptoms of depression as they help induce feelings of calm and relaxation.
Medication is typically reserved for those with moderate to severe depression and will either be prescribed by itself or as a complement to behavioral therapy.
Is Depression Curable?
Depression cannot be cured. However, you can have prolonged periods where you will not experience the symptoms of it. For most people, depression comes and goes in bouts. Just because you have not had depression for a long time though does not mean you will not experience another episode ever again.
Despite not being curable, there are many fantastic treatment options that can help to minimize the symptoms of this mental health illness and prevent them from having a negative impact on your life.
Even those who have been prescribed antidepressants to help with their depression may not need to take them forever. In fact, the fear of going on antidepressants and being on them for life is something that stops many people from taking them in the first place.
Doctors will usually prescribe the lowest effective dose when a patient is first prescribed antidepressants. This gives them room to increase the dosage should they not be initially effective. It usually takes around a week before the patient will notice an improvement in their symptoms. If there is no improvement, the dose may be increased or a different medication prescribed. Antidepressants should usually be continued for at least six months after symptoms stop. The patient can then be weaned off them.
Stopping Antidepressant Medication
If you are taking medication for depression, it is important that you do not suddenly stop taking them. This is to prevent a recurrence of the symptoms or the onset of a variety of withdrawal symptoms such as trouble sleeping, abdominal issues, irritability, restlessness, or sweating. Always follow your doctor’s advice if you want to stop taking antidepressants.