Treatment for Major Depression

If you’ve been trying to cope with the symptoms of major depression, you know they can sometimes feel overwhelming. They can even interfere with daily functions.

You are not alone.

In this article, we’re exploring the various options involved with treatment for major depression.

 Treatment for Major Depression

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 16 million Americans over 18 are affected by major depression each year. It’s the leading cause of disability for the age group 15 to 44.

Fortunately, there are multiple programs and therapies available to help you discover the cause of your symptoms and treat them, whether mild, moderate, or severe. 

Before treatment begins, a board-certified psychiatrist will determine your type of major depression and accurately diagnose your symptoms.

Here’s what to consider if you’re considering treatment for major depression.

Diagnosing Major Depression

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders outlines the criteria necessary to diagnose major depression. Specific behaviors must occur for more than two weeks, including feeling tired or lethargic most of the time, problems concentrating and focusing, and changes in appetite. Also, your body movements seem to be slower than usual, you have sleep disturbances, and you may even have thoughts of suicide.

Other symptoms may include isolating from friends and family, uncontrollable crying spells, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, mood swings, constant worry, and having a feeling of emptiness or hopelessness.

Because symptoms of depression can be confused with other conditions, doctors may order blood tests and lab work to make sure an underlying medical condition is not the cause. Depressive symptoms also show up in Lyme disease, premenstrual dysmorphic disorder, Thyroid disorder, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and bipolar disorder, to name just a few examples.

Schedule an evaluation today.

Major Depression Specifiers

Depression can have specific features uncommon to most. Noting them is extremely helpful in the diagnostic process. For example, not everyone will have anxious distress with depression. This means they constantly worry about events or the potential for bad things to happen.

Other major depressive specifiers include melancholic, atypical, mixed, psychotic, catatonia, peripartum, and seasonal.

After receiving a diagnosis, you will work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan. This is when you will review the many treatment options available, like the ones detailed below.

Medication for Major Depression

Multiple factors contribute to someone developing major depression. One factor is the brain, which releases neurotransmitters like Serotonin and Norepinephrine that make you feel happy. They are also known as the brain’s “happy chemicals.” Those with depression have a lower production or imbalance of these happy chemicals.

Medication can help the brain rebalance your “happy chemicals.” For example, some antidepressants help the brain boost levels of Serotonin. Other medicines boost Serotonin and Norepinephrine.

Medication can help you feel well enough to do the other things needed to cope and overcome major depression. Ketamine therapy should be considered for cases of depression, anxiety, and trauma that have not responded to traditional medication treatment. 

Individual Counseling

Whether it’s called individual counseling, talk therapy, or psychotherapy, working one-on-one with a licensed mental health professional can play a significant role in improving symptoms of major depression. According to the American Psychological Association, 75% of those who received psychotherapy benefited in some way.

Therapists have a wide assortment of counseling techniques from which to choose. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common treatment method. CBT is based on the theory that a person’s thoughts influence feelings and feelings influence behaviors. Negative thoughts lead to damaging behaviors.

During individual therapy, you change negative thinking patterns to positive ones so your actions will also be positive. Within CBT, there are strategies a therapist may use to help you reach your therapy goals. Examples include journaling, stress management, relaxation, and cognitive restructuring.

Group Counseling

Group therapy is a treatment for depression that allows you to give and receive peer support and guidance from a mental health professional. Clinical strategies include cognitive-behavioral group therapy, interpersonal groups, psychoeducational groups, skills development groups, and support groups.

Group therapy benefits include improved social skills, meeting people who understand what you are going through and learning more about yourself with help from the group.

Family Therapy

Your mental health affects the people in your life- at home, work, and socially. Each member in your circle of family and friends plays a role in your recovery or your continued depression. Some are enablers, those who help you continue living in a depressed state of mind. Others are part of the reason you have major depression. For example, living with an abusive sibling or an alcoholic parent may develop depressive symptoms.

Family therapy works with the entire family to establish healthy roles, improve communication skills, learn conflict resolution, and help the family function properly. 

You and your family may need more treatment than other participants or less. When searching for a treatment facility, look for one with programs with varying levels of intensity.

Treatment Intensity Options

Someone seeking treatment of depression for the first time may need more access to services than someone who has been in therapy for a while. It can be helpful to transition from a high-intensity program like partial hospitalization to intensive outpatient and then to individual outpatient services.

Complimentary and Holistic Approaches

As advancements are made in how mental health is treated, professionals recognize the benefits of treating the whole person, not just the mental illness.

Add-on holistic therapies can be combined with traditional treatments for greater outcomes. They may even be able to help those with treatment-resistant depression. Holistic activities are known to boost the brain’s happy chemicals. Combined with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two may be the strategy that helps you feel satisfied and excited about life again. 

Activities you can try include meditation, prayer, or trauma-focused yoga, exercise, nutrition, massage, and making minor lifestyle changes to your diet and physical fitness routines. Treatments may also include mindfulness, neurofeedback, equine, art, or music therapy. 

Call us if you are looking for more information on major depression or want to seek help for yourself or a loved one. We recognize that what works for one person may not work for the next. We have multi-level programs lead by experts in mental health who can start working on your individualized treatment plan today.