Depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health issues in America. More than 17 million American adults live with some form of the disorder, which may be mild to severe and may or may not respond well to treatment. There are several types of depression, and each requires a depression treatment plan that’s tailored to the specific condition. Only a mental health professional can develop a treatment plan with you.
What Is a Depression Treatment Plan?
Depression is more than just feeling sad, though persistent sadness is a common symptom of major depressive disorder. Nearly 50,000 people take their own lives every year in the United States, while more than 12 million people say they’ve seriously thought about it. Getting major depressive disorder treatment in time is the key to reducing these numbers and controlling one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
What Are the Options for Treating Depression?
Your care team might try different approaches to treating depression with you. Some of these will show better results than others. A major part of effective depression treatment is experimenting with various methods and sticking with whatever combination seems to be working best for you. This usually includes continuous evaluation and periodic adjustments as your condition changes and you progress through treatment.
Counseling is usually part of the depression treatment plan. This is a basically no-risk approach to managing depression and helping people learn coping strategies. Various evidence-backed approaches are commonly used, such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Group therapy and family support are also usually components of the talk-therapy part of a depression treatment plan.
Medical Approaches to Depression
Medication is part of many people’s depression treatment. Before you start taking meds for depression, your doctor will want to assess your overall health and take a medical history to ensure it’s safe. This workup looks for several red flags that could affect your treatment, including:
- Medications: Some drugs, especially corticosteroids and isotretinoin, are linked to depression.
- Family history: Depression tends to run in families, and your risk is higher if you have parents or siblings with depression.
- Trauma: Depressive disorder can manifest after a traumatic event, including a history of physical, mental or sexual abuse.
- Chronic pain: Chronic pain grinds people down and makes it more likely you’ll develop depression and associated sleep disorders.
- Grief: Tragic events can cause temporary depression or trigger major depressive disorder in people already prone to it.
- Personal conflict: A stressful personal life has been linked to the onset of depression and the worsening of existing symptoms.
- Substance abuse: Many street drugs trigger or worsen depression, and it’s extremely common for people with depression to also show signs of addiction disorders.
After your doctor has evaluated your history and current conditions, you may be offered a range of medications to get control of depression symptoms. There are several classes of these drugs, and you may have to try more than one before you find a combination that works.
Tricyclic antidepressants target the specific brain chemicals associated with depression. This is one of the oldest classes of depression drugs, and they’ve largely lost popularity among doctors treating depression. These drugs work by changing the way brain cells communicate with each other, relieving symptoms at the cost of sometimes unpleasant side effects.
Some people have depression that’s resistant to treatment. Originally developed to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, antipsychotics are most often used as add-ons to other antidepressants. They work by blocking the high levels of dopamine that are thought to cause both schizophrenia and some symptoms of depression.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first choice for many depression treatment plans. SSRIs work by boosting serotonin levels in the brain. SSRIs your doctor is likely to prescribe include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram and paroxetine. This class of drugs is fairly widely prescribed for a range of mental health conditions. A lot of work has been done on determining each drug’s side effects, but these vary with the patient and with other medications you may be taking. Work with your doctor to determine which side effects you’ll most likely experience. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are a related class doctors favor for people with multiple symptoms.
Atypical antidepressants are sort of a miscellaneous category of antidepressant drugs. They don’t neatly fit into other categories, and they don’t necessarily have many things in common with each other. Some drugs in this class work on serotonin, others on dopamine, while still others do both. Common side effects of atypicals include dizziness and dry mouth, but a small number of people experience more serious side effects. If you’re prescribed a course of atypical antidepressants, you should stay in close contact with your doctor’s office to report any adverse reactions as they develop, especially when you first start taking them.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were the first class of drugs approved for the treatment of depression, and they’re still effective for many people. They tend to come with serious side effects, such as elevated blood pressure, so they definitely aren’t for everybody. Many mental health professionals have moved on to prefer other, newer medications as their first choice for depression treatment plans.
Natural Depression Treatment
Medication is not necessarily your first choice for fighting depression. Many people, especially those with mild to moderate depression and anxiety symptoms, instead choose to try natural, non-drug approaches to healing. Some lifestyle changes are well-supported by studies to help manage depression, while others are more speculative. Common natural approaches to depression include:
- Improved diet
- Daily exercise
- Weight loss
For many people, the improved self-image and better health that come with these lifestyle changes work very well to reduce the depression they feel. These improved lifestyle routines also seem to boost the brain’s serotonin levels, achieving an effect similar to many antidepressants. Always check with your doctor before making major lifestyle changes and listen to professional advice about taking medication in addition to diet and exercise routines.
Can Depression Ever Be Cured?
Clinical depression can’t be cured the same way an infection can be, but thankfully it’s one of the most treatable chronic medical conditions out there. Following a strong depression treatment plan can help put your depression symptoms into remission and allow you to live your normal life.
Managing Depression in Your Life
Living with depression requires you to build a strong support system of family and friends. Maintaining contact with medical providers and your support group is also important. By building a plan for living with depression, accepting the risk that your symptoms might recur and preparing for potential mental health emergencies, you can limit the negative impact major depressive disorder has on your life.
Getting Help for Depression
Depression is a potentially life-threatening, but still very treatable, mental health condition you shouldn’t face alone. Sunlight Recovery’s team of compassionate professionals helps people just like you get through depression rehab in Florida. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.