Have you been feeling depressed lately? Do you know someone who may be depressed and want to help them get the treatment they need?
I know firsthand that getting help for depression can seem overwhelming. You just don’t know where to begin! I am hoping that with this article, I can help you or your loved one figure out how to get help for depression and get on the road to recovery.
Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental illness. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, in 2015, 6.7% of Americans had a major depression episode. Depression has many symptoms that can have a strong negative impact on your everyday life.
It can be hard to admit to ourselves and others that we are depressed, but if you can get anything from this article, I am hoping you will realize that you are worth it! There is nothing embarrassing about seeking treatment options.
In fact, to me it just makes you a stronger person.
Help and Treatment Options for Depression
There are many different options when it comes to treating depression. Some people may choose one specific treatment method, while others will combine a few of them together.
What most doctors will suggest is a combination of medication and talk therapy. While these two can be beneficial, I think it is important to look at all treatment options below.
Talk therapy is meeting with a qualified counselor to talk about your problems and help you find a solution to increase your well being. By talking to you, a therapist can examine your thinking patterns as well as behaviors that may influence your depression.
Normally, therapy sessions last one hour every week or two depending on your situation. In the first sessions, your therapist will get to know you. They will ask you questions about your situation, symptoms, behaviors and work on a treatment plan to help you get better.
It is important to really open up during these sessions. Let them know exactly how you are feeling and what you are feeling and what these feelings may stem from.
Each week, most counselors will provide you with homework or something to work on for the following session. The next time you see them, you will be discussing among other things, the outcome of the homework.
There are many different types of talk therapy including:
- Cognitive therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Psychoanalysis or psychodynamic therapy
Talk therapy has many benefits:
- It helps lower your stress level.
- It provides you with an unbiased perspective on your problems.
- It encourages you to continue other treatments.
- It can help you manage certain side effects of medication.
- It can help you find ways to discuss your mental illness with others.
- It can help you detect signs that your depression is getting worse or better.
Medications are commonly prescribed as part of the treatment for depression. Personally, I think they can be beneficial for some people, but should be combined with other treatment options.
There are many different types of antidepressant medication, and your doctor must consider important aspects before deciding which medication to prescribe.The most important thing that needs to be considered is your specific symptoms. Everyone that is diagnosed with depression can not be prescribed the same medication as depression is experienced differently by everyone. Other things to consider are:
- Side effects of the antidepressants
- Other medical problems
- Interaction with other medications you me be taking
- How much it costs, whether you have drug coverage, and your budget
If your doctor simply advises medication to treat your depression without really hearing you out and what you are feeling, then I would discuss your depression to another doctor.
Some doctors hand out prescriptions for antidepressants so easily when alternative treatment options may be as beneficial for you such as natural remedies.
There are many supplements that can be used to help treat depression. One of the most common ones is 5-HTP. As with antidepressant medication 5-HTP is also manages your serotonin levels, thus improving your mood and general well-being.
Other types of natural remedies include:
- St John’s Wort – It is one of the more popular natural treatments for depression, but consulting your doctor before taking it is very important. It can interact negatively with other medication such as blood thinners, chemotherapy medication and antidepressants.
- Omega-3 – Adding omega-3 to your system can be done through your diet, or by taking a supplement. Foods that contain omega-3 are cold-water fish, flaxseed, flax oil, and walnuts. One drawback of the supplement is that it will leave you with a fishy taste in your mouth. Also, if taken in high doses it can interact with other medication, so it is always best to consult with your doctor.
- DHEA – short for dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA is a hormone produced naturally by your body. When this hormone level is low, it has been linked to symptoms of depression. More studies are needed, but when taken as a supplement in high doses or for extended periods of time, there may be serious side effects.
Before taking any natural supplements, it is always best to consult with your doctor, or at the very least a pharmacist. Unlike prescription medication, these are not monitored by the FDA. Doing your research is always a good practice.
Certain changes in your lifestyle can help manage your symptoms of depression and make you feel better overall. If you’re a seeing a counselor, these are things that they may suggest to you as part of your treatment. Some lifestyle changes you can make are:
- Limiting or avoiding alcohol and drug use – drugs and alcohol are often used by people to self-medicate because they can provide temporary relief of symptoms. However, in the long run, consuming drugs and alcohol regularly will worsen your depression.
- Healthy diet – Eating well will provide you with vitamins that your body needs to function both physically and mentally.
- Exercise – Exercising helps elevate your endorphin levels (satisfactory chemicals) which will make you feel better mentally.
- Sleeping – Getting enough sleep is crucial for a healthy mind and body.
Other Treatment Options
Some people, like myself, are resistant to conventional depression treatments and may require something more intense.
Hospitalization could be needed, especially when there is a strong possibility of the person hurting themselves or others. This offers the medical professionals a more structured environment to provide you with treatments such as medication and talk therapy.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a possibility for someone who has not responded to more conventional treatment options. I was suggested this by my doctor after a few hospitalizations and having tried basically every medication and talk therapy available. ECTs seem to cause a change in your brain’s chemistry which reversed symptoms of depression almost instantly.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a less popular option where magnetic pulses are sent through a coil that is placed on your scalp. These magnetic waves will stimulate the part of your brain that regulates your mood.
How to Find Treatment for Depression?
The first step in finding treatment is normally making an appointment with your family physician to discuss how you are feeling. He/she may suggest and/or prescribe medication or discuss natural remedies first such as talk therapy and supplements. Nonetheless, they will steer you in the right direction towards finding the right treatment options.
If your doctor is unable to refer you to someone who can help, you can do research yourself. Just go to Google and type in “psychiatry services”, “counseling services”, or “mental health services” plus the city you are in.
This should give you many results. Take the time to read reviews, and get to know their different approaches. This helps you make a more informed decision based on what you think is best for you.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is also a great place to start to find resources on depression and other mental illnesses, as well as a forum where you can share your stories to others while also reading others’ stories
If you are a religious person, you may want to consult a spiritual leader. They could be familiar with the various resources in your area that are geared towards your personal beliefs.
The latest option for treatment is online counseling services. This can be more convenient and cost-efficient, and can be a great starting point in your journey to recovery. Because you are in the comfort of your own home, it will feel safer for you. The Center for Anxiety and Mood Disorders is one of the many options available in terms of online counseling.
Stick to Your Treatment
No matter what treatment method you choose to use, you must stick to it. In the beginning it can be hard and you may just want to give up, but most treatments will take a few months for you to really see improvement.
As was the case with me, you may also need to try several things before you find what is right for you. It is easy to get discouraged, but if you find that something isn’t working, try something else. However, make sure you give each treatment method enough to time to make a difference.
If you feel like giving up, try to find inspiration from others who have fought through depression in the past. You can start with this video. Chris Evans, a successful actor, explains how depression and anxiety have affected him.
In the United states and Canada, if you are feeling suicidal call 911, or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you feel more comfortable, you can text the word “START” to 741741.
Here is a list of suicide hotlines in other countries.
My goal is to help people deal with their mental illness in the best way possible. If you have a question or a comment, please leave it below and I will get back to you. I love hearing from you!