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What Are General Methods Used to Treat Depression? 3 Treatment Methods

how to treat depression
Depression symptoms may be reduced through 3 treatment methods: medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications

Depression is a common and serious medical illness that can severely impact your ability to function, with the potential to lead to poor work performances, strained relationships, substance abuse, and even suicide.

While there is no one size fits all solution to treating depression, symptoms may be reduced through three general methods:

  • Medication
  • Therapy
  • Lifestyle modifications

What medications are used to treat depression?

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Some commonly prescribed SSRIs include citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, etc.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): These drugs act by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Examples of SNRIs include desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, and venlafaxine.
  • Atypical antidepressantsThese medications typically don’t fit into other categories of antidepressants. Examples of atypical antidepressants include bupropion, trazodone, etc.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: While these can effectively treat depression, they have more side effects than newer antidepressants. They are usually prescribed only if SSRIs fail. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include amitriptyline, doxepin, protriptyline, etc.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): These are generally prescribed if other medications fail. However, they must be taken with caution because they may interact with certain foods, such as cheese, wine, and pickles. They can also interact with other medications such as SSRIs and cause serious reactions. If you are taking other medications, make sure to inform your doctor. Examples of MAOIs include phenelzine, isocarboxazid, etc.
  • Other medications: Your doctor may also prescribe anti-anxiety medications, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medications.

What types of therapy are used to treat depression?

  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy involves talking to a therapist and receiving counseling individually or in a group. Psychotherapy can help patients cope with negative feelings and improve quality of life.
  • Light therapy: Light therapy can help those with seasonal affective disorder. For example, doses of white light exposure have been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
  • Alternative therapies: Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, meditation, and herbal therapies, may help with depression, although this type of treatment should only be started after medical consultation

What lifestyle modifications can help fight depression?

While you can take practical steps each day to reduce stress and improve your mood, it’s important to find what works for you, since what works for other people may not necessarily work for you. Examples of lifestyle habits that can help with depression include: 

  • Exercise: Staying physically active by taking walks, practicing yoga, doing Pilates, or something else you enjoy for at least 10-30 minutes a day can help keep the mind refreshed and alert.
  • Meditation: Meditating for 10 to 30 minutes a day is a great way to relieve stress, reduce anger, and declutter the mind. 
  • Pets: Pets can put you in a positive mood and make you feel better sometimes almost instantly. It’s also important to remember that not all pets require a lot of time, space, or money, so you may want to consider low-maintenance pets that fit your lifestyle and budget.
  • Volunteering: Volunteering is a powerful way to help you feel positive and happy. Helping others can give you a sense of purpose and seeing appreciation from those you help can motivate you. Consider using your free time to volunteer at local animal shelters, orphanages, or old age homes.
  • Hobbies: Spending some time every day doing a hobby you enjoy can help you decompress and improve your mood. The hobbies you choose can be simple, such as reading a book, listening to music, playing an instrument, cooking, gardening, or arts and crafts. 
  • Time with loved ones: Spending time with friends and family can help you laugh, relax, and let go of pent-up negativity. 

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