People who suffer from depression may feel helpless and live in complete darkness from which there is no way out, but fortunately depression can be treated even in severe cases, so there is no need to hesitate to seek help. Treating depression depends on a range of treatment options from psychotherapy, medications, self-treatment, and others, and the appropriate methods are chosen based on the type of depression and its severity, and it may require trying several different treatments during the treatment journey until reaching the best treatment plan for each case separately. . [1] [2]

In this article, learn about treating depression with medications, psychological therapies, as well as natural treatments for depression, and other procedures.

Psychotherapy for depression

Psychotherapy for depression or talk therapy is one of the effective ways to treat depression in addition to pharmacotherapy. Talking and exchanging ideas with a specialist helps in learning skills to deal with negative feelings and how to overcome them.

Some psychological treatment methods for depression include: [2] [3] [4]

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps a person understand his or her thoughts and behaviors. The treatment focuses on learning techniques for dealing with negative thoughts, replacing negative behaviors with positive ones, and overcoming feelings of sadness, despair, frustration, and others.
  • : This treatment is based on helping the patient discover and understand the problems that occurred in the past and caused depression and how to overcome them.
  • Interactive therapy: Interactive psychotherapy aims to improve a person’s social relationships, learn interpersonal skills, and express feelings clearly.
  • Family therapy: This type of depression treatment is useful in cases where a person’s depression affects the rest of his family, as it helps the patient understand his role, and educate family members about depression and how to deal with the person affected by it.

It should be noted that some types of psychotherapy can also be applied in the form of group therapy for depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and reactive psychotherapy.

Treating depression with medication

Depression medications reduce symptoms by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and are used as part of a moderate to severe treatment plan. [1]

The effect of depression medications begins after two weeks or more of taking them regularly, and the patient may need to change the type of depression medication more than once to reach the appropriate medication, as the response varies from person to person, and the duration of treatment of depression with medications may take several months to years in some cases. [3]

It should be noted that antidepressants are not addictive, but they may cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them suddenly; Therefore, you should not stop medication for depression without consulting your doctor. [3]

Medications to treat depression include: [3] [4] [5]

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: They are the most common type of antidepressant with the least side effects, used in the treatment of severe as well as moderate mental depression, examples of which are Fluoxetine.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors: These drugs are also used to treat moderate to severe depression, such as duloxetine and venlafaxine.
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants: These medications restore the balance of neurotransmitters but can cause more side effects than previous medications, such as amitriptyline and imipramine.
  • Noradrenaline and dopamine reuptake inhibitors: These drugs belong to atypical antidepressants, and they work to increase the level of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain, for example.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors: These drugs are used to treat depression that has not responded to other medications, such as isocarboxazid and phenelzine.
  • It is a new drug to treat depression and was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2019 as a drug to treat treatment-resistant depression in adults, along with other antidepressants. This medication is available in the form of a nasal spray, and its effect begins within 20 to 40 minutes. It should be noted that this medication is to be used only under the supervision of a doctor, and the patient must be closely monitored for several hours after taking it.
  • Lithium: Lithium is used to treat conditions that have not responded to other treatments, along with other antidepressants.

Brain Stimulation Therapy

Some procedures that stimulate the brain can be used in cases that have not responded to other treatments, including: [2] [4]

  • Electroconvulsive therapy: It is an effective option for treating severe, chronic, or treatment-resistant depression. It works by passing small electric currents through the brain to stimulate a seizure, and is performed under general anesthesia.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation: A newer type of brain stimulation therapy, it is a less invasive alternative to electroconvulsive therapy, in which the therapist places a magnet on the head to generate a magnetic field that stimulates the cerebral cortex. It is worth noting that this treatment is safe, has few side effects, and does not affect concentration or memory.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation: This treatment is performed by implanting a device in the chest that stimulates the brain by sending electrical impulses through the vagus nerve.

Treating depression in hospital

The treatment of some severe cases of depression may require staying in the hospital to receive the necessary treatment, especially if the person poses a danger to himself or others. [2]

Hospital treatment usually takes a short time until the patient’s condition is stabilized, and then a treatment plan for depression is developed to follow after discharge from the hospital. [2]

self-treatment of depression

The application of self-treatment methods of depression in addition to pharmacological and psychological treatment contributes to reducing depression, and it may also be useful in treating mild depression, and these methods include: [4]

  • Support groups: Joining support groups allows a person to share their thoughts and feelings with other people who are also struggling with depression, which reduces loneliness and contributes to improvement.
  • Read books and reliable sources: Reading specialized books on self-treatment methods helps you learn the skills to overcome negative emotions while trying to apply them in daily life.
  • Obtaining advice from specialized sites or applications: There are many sites and applications on the Internet that specialize in providing psychological counseling and are available at any time during the day.

Alternative medicine treatment for depression

The use of alternative therapies can contribute to reducing symptoms of depression along with psychological and pharmacological treatment, but a doctor should be consulted first. Examples of alternative mental depression treatments include: [5] [6] [7]

  • Meditation: Practicing 30 to 40 minutes of meditation a day may help treat depression by reducing symptoms, changing the way the mind responds to stress and anger, and reducing the chance of depression coming back after treatment.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture can help relieve symptoms of depression, as a therapist uses needles to stimulate specific points on the body.
  • Vitamins and nutritional supplements: Treating depression with vitamins and nutritional supplements compensates for the lack of nutrients, as a lack of some elements may be associated with the occurrence of symptoms of depression, and taking types of vitamins can help improve mood, and examples of nutritional supplements, omega-3, probiotics, and vitamin D, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (English: S-adenosyl-L-methionine).
  • Light therapy: Light therapy contributes to regulating the circadian clock, improving sleep quality, and increasing serotonin levels.

herbal treatment for depression

Some herbs may help relieve symptoms of mild or moderate depression and improve mood, but you should consult your doctor before using them and not use them in place of prescribed medications. [8]

Some herbs that may help treat depression include: [8]

Treating depression at home

Making some lifestyle modifications, as well as other treatments, can help reduce depression and improve mood.

How to treat depression at home includes:

  • Make a schedule of daily activities to be done.
  • Set daily goals and start with simple tasks, then gradually increase them.
  • Make sure to exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy diet and eat foods rich in omega-3.
  • Get enough sleep, and try to regulate sleep schedules.
  • Do not abandon responsibilities at work or at home, as sharing responsibility contributes to maintaining a lifestyle, combating depression, and giving a sense of accomplishment.
  • Doing new activities, such as reading a book, visiting a museum, or participating in volunteer work.
  • Trying to avoid isolation by continuing to meet friends and participate in family gatherings, as well as doing the things that are enjoyable for the person, no matter how routine they may seem.
  • Stay away from drinking alcohol or taking drugs.