What Can You Do
Treatments for Depression
Lifestyle Changes & Social Support
Adopting healthier habits in our day-to-day.
Our lifestyle and support networks affect our mental health significantly. Research has shown that symptoms of depression are alleviated when we adopt healthier habits such as exercising and improving our diet. Conversely, behaviors such as substance misuse and alcohol worsen symptoms of depression.
Moreover, our social support networks are important, as they can either facilitate or impede the process of seeking help. It is crucial that we surround ourselves with individuals who are there for us and listen to us. This allows us to open up about our struggles and talk openly.
Mindfulness & Meditation
Sitting still, grounding and relaxation techniques.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing and being aware of one’s own sensations and feelings. It allows us to be in the present moment and grounds us to what is happening right now, allowing us to observe our feelings non-judgmentally. It is aimed to help us move from being stuck in the past or being worried about the future. Practices such as breathing exercises or “The Five Senses Exercise” are known to be quick and easy ways to practice mindfulness.
Exploring your past, understanding your present and looking forward to the future.
Therapy is one of the treatment options when it comes to depression. In therapy, the individual builds a strong therapeutic relationship with their therapist and explores how their mental health is impacting their daily life, with the aim of reducing the impairment the condition can cause. There are several talk therapies, and nowadays individuals also have the option for e-therapy.
Different modalities offer different approaches and perspectives. The most important factor across different approaches is the relationship you develop with your therapist. Every therapist’s approach will be unique, and the therapeutic relationship is crucial for therapy to be effective. It is for this reason that you need to make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist.
The person together with the therapist explores what is happening in the person’s life. You might want to discuss any current difficulties you are exploring, or use this opportunity for self-growth. You might want to improve your communication patterns or make sense of events which have happened in your life.
In cases where the person is diagnosed with a disorder, therapy can help to explore any stressors or triggers, and how the symptoms are impacting the individual’s quality of life. Together with the therapist, the individual then learns how to respond healthily to the thoughts that were previously difficult to deal with.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is based on the concept that thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interlinked, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap the person in a vicious cycle. CBT helps the individual to deal with problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. The person is shown how to change these negative patterns into more positive ones to improve the way they feel. CBT deals with the current problems of the individual and helps the person to improve their state of mind through practical ways that they face daily.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing Therapy particularly helps persons who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is based on the concept that symptoms of PTSD result from past disturbing experiences that continue to cause distress because the memory was not adequately dealt with. These unprocessed memories are understood to contain the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and physical sensations that occurred at the time of the event. When the memories are triggered, these stored disturbing elements are experienced and cause the symptoms of PTSD and/or other disorders.
Systemic Family Therapy
Systemic therapy seeks to address people both on an individual level as well as people in relationships, dealing with the interactions of groups and their interactional patterns and dynamics. Systemic therapy is effective for children’s and adults’ difficulties, both when individuals have acquired a mental health diagnosis and when there is more general or complex distress. It is effective across the lifecycle, spanning developmental stages from under-fives to old age. Working therapeutically with individuals together with their families and/or significant others enables the use of individuals’ relationships as a resource and reduces stress and difficulties for all family members. Systemic therapy has also been found to be particularly effective during severe and complex disorders requiring extensive treatment.
Understanding the chemicals in the brain.
Medication can at times be prescribed to help with the symptoms of depression, however it is often most effective when partnered with therapy with a psychologist or psychotherapist.
The main medical treatment for depression is antidepressant medication. This might be prescribed if the person is experiencing moderate to severe depression, or when other treatments have not been successful. Medication might also be required if psychological therapy would not be possible due to the severity of the condition.
Other types of medication which can be prescribed include antipsychotic medication or mood stabilisers. Although antipsychotic medication is usually advised for people with psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia, they can also be helpful for other conditions such as bipolar disorder or if previous medication for depression did not work. Mood stabilisers help with mood changes, and can be useful in the treatment of bipolar disorder.
It is not uncommon for people with mental health conditions to have suicidal thoughts. Treating the condition effectively will reduce the likelihood of a person hurting him or herself. In the period of time between the person starting antidepressant medication and responding to treatment – which can be more than two weeks – the person should still be monitored closely by the doctor and his or her progress reviewed, as the risk of suicidal behaviour may even be slightly increased, especially in young people.
What are the side effects?
Antidepressants can make you feel better, but they won’t change your personality or make you feel happy all the time. Like taking any other medication, some people will experience some side effects, and individuals should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor. People should also ask for information about the medications so that they can make an informed decision.
Depending on which medication is taken, common side effects can include nausea, headaches, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, agitation, weight gain, dry mouth and sexual difficulties (e.g. difficulty becoming/staying aroused).
Some of these symptoms can be short-lived, but people who experience any of these symptoms should tell their doctor, as there are ways of minimizing them. The likelihood of a particular side effect happening varies between individuals and medications. It is important to highlight that no one should stop medication without consulting a doctor, as this can cause adverse reactions.
How long would I be taking medication for?
Similar to all other medicine, medication would need some time to work and be effective. Some might benefit from medication over a short period of time. For others, medication might be needed it over the long term, the same way as someone who has diabetes needs to maintain their condition by taking insulin.
It is important to note that medication should not be started or stopped without medical supervision or guidance. Finding the right treatment for you is something you can do with the help of a trusted GP or psychiatrist. Discuss any concerns or queries, such as questions on side effects, with the professional in order to decide on the best route for you.