Depression, even in serious cases, is highly treatable. As with many other illnesses, the earlier a person seeks treatment, the better, and the greater the odds of preventing future occurrence.
The two most common methods of treating depression are medication and psychotherapy. Medication (antidepressants) can be prescribed by a doctor in an effort to help reduce depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy involves meeting with a marriage with a mental health professional to adjust how depression influences a person's thought process and behavior. Medication and psychotherapy are sometimes combined during treatment.
Some suggest that the first step for treating depression should be to consult with a physician, as some medications and medical conditions (e.g. thyroid) can result in similar symptoms as depression. A physician can rule out this possibility by conducting an interview and physical examination, and by submitting lab tests. If the physician rules out side effects from medicine or a medical condition as the cause, he or she should provide a referral for a mental health professional.
The mental health professional will conduct a thorough assessment. He or she will likely ask questions about any personal or family history of depression or mental illness, the nature of symptoms, including length and severity, and any past use of alcohol or harmful substances. He or she should also ask whether the person has experienced any thoughts associated with suicide or physical harm. If a need is identified a treatment plan will be developed and additional treatment will be recommended.
Psychotherapy can be helpful resource in depression treatment. Supportive counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and problem solving therapy are just a few therapeutic approaches that have been found helpful for treating depression.
Supportive counseling: Supportive counseling is form of therapy that can help ease depressive symptoms and reduce feelings of hopelessness and apathy often associated with depression
Cognitive behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people modify negative underlying thoughts and reconstruct healthy functional thinking patterns. It has also shown to help people recognize which of life's challenges are more serious than others.
Problem solving therapy: Problem solving therapy works to change those areas in a person's life that are producing significant stressors or possibly contributing to depression. This form of therapy may include improving coping skills, and engaging in couples or family therapy to address and work through relational problems.
It is important to note that supportive counseling alone may not be enough to improve depressive symptoms. While supportive counseling may provide needed encouragement, additional steps are often necessary to create changes in one's lifestyle. Without critical changes, both internally and externally, it is likely that depression will continue. Internal changes usually require a shift in thinking. This may include how a person approaches problems, evaluates him or herself, evaluates others, sets personal expectations, and sets expectations about life and other people. External changes usually means changes in stress management, problem solving skills, life management skills, communications skills, and how one develops and maintains interpersonal relationships.
Treatment length will vary depending upon the seriousness of depression. Some research estimates that improvements should start being noticed within the first 6 to 10 sessions. Around 70-80% of those who have received depression treatment noticed significant improvement by 20-30 sessions. For mild depression, treatment length may result in fewer sessions. And for those with serious depression, treatment may more extensive. Therapy for depression treatment is usually scheduled on a weekly basis; however, in serious cases, people may desire to meet more frequently. If you or someone you know is in need of depression treatment a mental health professional may be able to help.