When people think of depression, they often acquaint it to mean the same thing as being sad or upset, whether it be over the end of a romantic relationship or the loss of a loved one. For most people, a “case of the blues” last a few hours or a few days, and can be soothed by a warm beverage and a sympathetic ear.
However, for people living with chronic or severe depression, feeling down and out is more than just being sad. It is a real illness with real symptoms that can even present themselves physically in the form of chronic pain and fatigue. Depression is an illness that affects the mind as well as the body.
What Causes Depression?
While we dont know exactly know what causes depression, we do know that it could be caused in part by an imbalance of neurotransmitter chemicals like norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. Another possible clue lies in brain structures. Imaging studies have revealed that certain brain areas differ in size between depressed and mentally healthy individuals. The amygdala, which responds to the emotional significance of events, tends to be smaller in depressed people than in those without the disorder.
Other emotional regulatory centers that appear to be smaller in individuals with depression are the hippocampus (which is involved in emotional memory), the anterior cingulate cortex, (which helps to govern impulse control and empathy), and certain sections of the prefrontal cortex (which plays an important role in regulating emotions).
Whatever may be the case, there are various clinical methods, as well as holistic methods for treating and coping with depression that have proven effective for many people. Not every method is right for everyone however, and you should weigh the pros and cons of each option to choose a method that is right for you.
Antidepressant medications are a class of drugs used in the treatment of depression and other mental health conditions, and are some of the most commonly prescribed medications on the market. They include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), atypical antidepressants, and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
Antidepressant medications are designed to balance neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain that affect mood and emotions. For anyone suffering the pain and anguish of depression, they promise a quick and simple method of relief. But this isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” topic.
For those with severe depression, medication can be a life changing treatment. However, some research shows that very few people become completely symptom-free on antidepressants, and some become worse. Many people who respond initially to medication soon slip back into depression, despite sticking with their drug treatment.
2. Clinical Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be an effective tool for people who live with depression. Through one on one, or group therapy sessions with a psychiatrist, those with depression can come to understand their illness and what they can do to cope with it.
Therapy can be a very effective method of treatment for individuals to gain an awareness of what they are feeling, why they are feeling that way, what their triggers are. Some types of therapy teach practical techniques and coping mechanisms to help people avoid negative thoughts and harmful behaviors
There are many types of therapy available. Three of the more traditional methods used in depression include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Often, a blended approach is used that incorporates aspects of different therapies
3. TMS Therapy
In some cases, people who suffer from depression that is severe and resistant to medication and other forms of treatment have found TMS therapy to be an effective form of treatment, but what is TMS therapy?
By employing an electromagnetic coil, TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression. TMS is typically used as a final option when other depression treatments haven’t been effective.
TMS is an FDA Approve procedure that has been refined by research and clinical study over the last decade, and could potentially be a game changer for people who suffer from treatment resistant depression.
4. Alternative Therapies
Some people with depression prefer non-drug approaches to help them manage their condition and feel better. Natural treatments and home remedies may be good for milder forms of depression, but there’s no hard evidence that they’re effective for moderate to severe depression.
What is alternative therapy?
Any health treatment that isn’t considered standard Western medical practice is referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). These can be anything from diet and exercise to mental exercises and lifestyle change.
Some forms of CAM therapies include acupuncture, hypnosis, and meditation, among others. But as there is no quantifiable scientific method by which to gauge the effectiveness of these alternative treatments, the jury is still out on these types of treatments.
Other Ways to Cope With Depression
- Stay Active
- Pick Up a Hobby
- Reach out to friends and family
- Practice positive thinking.
People living with depression can still lead rich fulfilling lives, and through patience and perseverance, they can find effective long term methods of dealing with their illness and its symptoms.
If you or a loved one live with depression, what treatments or coping methods have you or they found effective for treating depression? Share your experience in the comments below.