Alternative Ways to Treat Adult Depression
Depression, also referred to as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, is a psychological disorder that causes an overwhelming feeling of despair, hopelessness and helplessness. This condition influences your thought process, feelings and behavior. It can cause both psychological and physical distress. For instance: When you are depressed, you may have a hard time summoning up the emotional and/or physical strength to complete your daily routines and/or activities. In some cases, depression can lead to suicidal ideation and/or death.
When most people hear the word, “depression” they naturally think of “the blues” and “sadness,” but in reality depression is more than just “the blues” and “sadness” it is a real medical condition that requires intensive treatment. When you are truly depressed you cannot just will yourself out of it. The good news is that depression can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, outpatient or residential treatment and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. Research suggests that the most effective treatment for adult depression is medication and psychotherapy.
During treatment your physician or psychiatrist may prescribe anti-depressants among other medications to reduce your depression symptoms. You may also find it beneficial to see a counselor, psychologist or therapist once or twice a week. A mental health professional can help you sort out your feelings and get to the root of your distress.
If you feel that you are depressed, then it is vital that you seek professional help as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be able to seek outpatient therapy or you may have to be admitted to the hospital. The most important thing is that you get the help that you need to live a more fulfilling life.
In some cases, you may need to be hospitalized in order to recover from adult depression. Hospitalization may also be needed if you are so severely depressed that you no longer have the ability to care for yourself or if you have thoughts of suicide. A hospital can provide you with the psychiatric care that you need to recover from your depression. While you are hospitalized you may receive medication, counseling and support.
Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is another approach used in the treatment of adult depression. ECT occurs when electrical currents are dispatched throughout your brain. This therapy approach alters the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in your brain. Although ECT comes with various side-effects, it can also ease your depression symptoms when all other treatments fail. Side-effects commonly associated with ECT include: confusion, loss of consciousness and temporary memory loss.
ECT is only used when all other treatments have failed or you have an elevated risk of suicide. In some cases, ECT is used with depressed pregnant women who cannot take their anti-depressants because of possible harm to their growing fetus. It may also be beneficial for elderly people who, for some reason, cannot take anti-depressants.
Choosing the Best Treatment
It is important to remain patient as your physician tries to create the best treatment plan for you. Sometimes it can take several tries to find the right combination of medication and psychotherapy. It is also important to note that some medications require approximately 8-10 weeks to become completely effective. Once the medications have accumulated in your system, you should see a reduction in your depression symptoms and medication side-effects. It is vital that you do not stop taking your medication or seeing your psychologist, counselor or therapist before your treatment plan has a chance to work.
If you try to wean yourself off your medications to quickly be can because serious side-effects so it is important that you be gradually weaned of your depression medications, under the supervision of a medical professional. If you find that you cannot tolerate your medications, do not abruptly stop taking them, instead call your physician or psychiatrist as soon as possible and tell him/her about your symptoms. Once your physician or physiatrist has developed the best treatment plan for you, you should begin to feel better in on time.
American Psychiatric Association. (2011). Practice guidelines for the treatment of patients with major depressive disorder. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Eisendrath, S. J. (2012). Psychiatric disorders. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment (51st ed.). New York, NY: The McGraw-Hill Companies.
Leahy, R. L., Holland, S. & McGinn, L. K. (2011). Treatment plans and interventions for depression and anxiety disorders (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.