Clinical or major depression is a serious mental illness that requires medical treatment in order for the majority of individuals to overcome their symptoms. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options available and research and scientific studies are continuously working to find and develop better forms of treatment.
The most common treatments for depression include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both and in the majority of cases these treatment methods are very effective. However, in more severe cases of depression or when other treatments have failed or can not be used, “ECT” or electrical convulsive therapy” as well as nerve or magnetic stimulation may be given.
Common Antidepressants used for the Treatment of Depression
The most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications for depression are “SSRI’s” or “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”. This type of drug is typically the first drug a physician will prescribe when beginning to treat depression. SSRIs are a class of medications that include the brand names “Prozac”, “Paxil”, “Zoloft”, “Lexapro” and “Celexa”.
The primary reason why these drugs are the first choice is that they tend to have fewer side effects and are safer than some of the other antidepressants. “SNRIs” or “serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors” somewhat similar to SSRIs except when high doses are given they can cause the side effects of dizziness and increased sweating.
“NDRIs” or “norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors” are also sometimes prescribed as they have they do not cause the sexual side effects that most other antidepressants do; however, there is an increased risk for seizures when taking this medication.
“Atypical” antidepressants are typically given in combination with one of the antidepressant medications as they have a sedative quality and are typically taken at night. “Tricyclic” antidepressants are an older medication that basically has the same effects as the newer antidepressants; however, this medication is known to cause serious side effects and is not generally given unless “SSRIs” have been tried and are ineffective.
MAOIs, Psychotherapy and Electroconvulsive Therapy
“MAOIs” or “monoamine oxidase inhibitors” are only given when all other types of antidepressants have failed as these can cause very serious side effects and cause drug interactions with certain foods and common over-the-counter medications. Psychotherapy is the most common form of treatment and typically done in combination with antidepressants.
“CBT” or “cognitive behavioral therapy” is the most commonly used form of psychotherapy and teaches the skills needed to identify and change negative or unhealthy thoughts and behaviors to healthy or positive ways of thinking. In severe cases of depression when antidepressant medications and psychotherapy fail to alleviate the symptoms of depression or an individual is at a high risk for suicide, “ECT” or “electroconvulsive therapy” can be given and often has an immediate effect in alleviating the symptoms of severe depression.
In some cases an individual may require hospitalization in order to effectively treat their depression. This is typically done in serious situations where the safety of the individual is endangered due to the potential of them harming themselves or others. In these cases the patient is monitored and given medications and psychotherapy until their mood is stabilized.