What is the Best Course of Treatment for Depression?

What is the Best Course of Treatment for Depression?

Each year, over 17 million adults in the US are affected by major depressive disorder. Since each patient differs in the cause of their symptoms, the most effective forms of treatment will vary as well. Knowing which form of treatment will see the best results can feel overwhelming for a patient deciding to take a step towards healing. For those looking for relief from their depressive symptoms, the first step begins with attending depression counseling.

Understanding Depression

Depression can occur as a result of a multitude of triggers. For many, this feeling of recurring intense sadness and disconnect happens after a major life change. Depression can manifest after a poor medical diagnosis, a loss of a loved one, an addiction, a sudden financial crisis, or the end of a relationship. While it’s common to experience sadness or disappointment after events such as these, a patient with major depressive disorder can “shut down” mentally, feeling numb to their daily lives and the world around them.

The symptoms of depression are not always contained to mental distress, and can often affect physical health. Since the human body has a strong connection of emotions, thoughts, and actions, a person’s mental and physical health work hand in hand. When one decreases, it’s likely the other will suffer as well. In patients exhibiting signs of depression, physical symptoms can appear as chronic pain, sleep disruption, lasting fatigue, fluctuating weight, and digestive distress.

Treatment Options

Despite the fact that relief is entirely possible, more than half of those experiencing symptoms don’t seek formal treatment. Whether it’s a fear of the constant stigma surrounding mental health, or the idea that they can work through their problems without medical intervention, two thirds of depression-inflicted persons will not receive the treatment they need.

Several treatment options are available for those experiencing signs of major depressive disorder. With the right course of action, patients often feel relief within a few short weeks. Generally, a combination of counseling and medication can provide aid in lessening, and in some cases reversing, both physical and mental symptoms.

Antidepressants are available in four separate classes, with the most common being selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. This particular antidepressant is popular due to its high effective rate and minimal side effects. The role of SSRIs is to block the reabsorption, or reuptake, of the neurotransmitter known as serotonin. Serotonin regulates the body’s mood, digestion, sleep, as well as other critical functions. Having insufficient levels of this naturally-occurring chemical has been linked to major depressive disorder, hence the treatment with SSRIs.

Counseling Options for Depression

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Many patients either prefer a non-medication method of treatment, or require the combination of both medicine and counseling. In these instances, attending therapy on a regular basis can be beneficial. After evaluating a patient’s symptoms and duration of their experiences with depressive signs, therapists will follow a specifically tailored course of action to alleviate their condition.

The goal of depression-specific counseling is to find the root of the recurring sadness, anxiousness, and disconnect from normal functioning. From there, professionals guide their patients in various ways to address their condition and deal with future episodes of sadness before it reaches the level of full-blown depression. For some patients, this comes in the form of a talk-therapy known as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT works by evaluating the link between thoughts, actions, emotions, and behaviors. In finding the root of depressive thoughts, therapists can work with patients to tackle their initial thoughts and emotions, and change their way of thinking before it manifests in their behaviors.

Ultimately, the goal of any counselor is to aid their patients in finding the cause of their depression, and formulating a plan to ease – if not fully eliminate- it moving forward. Given the uniqueness of every person’s struggles in life, there’s not a one-size-fits-all option, but the best place to start is with the help of a professional. When the right steps are taken, relief from major depressive disorder is entirely possible.

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