Depression, better known as major depressive disorder, is a common but serious medical illness. It affects the way you act, think and feel. Major depressive disorder alone affects more than 17 million people in the U.S., but there are various types of depression, including:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Atypical depression
- Situational depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Peripartum depression
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder
If you have a persistent feeling of sadness or feeling down that impacts your daily life, you may have clinical depression. Because there are many types of depression, the first step is to talk to your doctor to get an appropriate diagnosis.
Are the Varied Types of Depression Treated Differently?
Every 40 seconds, a person is lost to suicide. This is a scary statistic but shows why finding the right diagnosis to help with depression symptoms is so important. The different kinds of depression may be treated in alternative ways. The first step is to get the correct diagnosis so that a medical team or doctor has the information needed to set up a treatment plan.
Counseling, also known as talk therapy, can help with all types of depression. In counseling sessions, you’ll work with a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist. You may learn new coping strategies, talk through issues you’re dealing with or work through behavior therapies, like dialectical behavior therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.
Before starting on any kind of medication, it’s important to have a full medical workup and to look for any underlying causes of the symptoms of depression. For example, lethargy or exhaustion could be linked to low levels of nutrients in the body from a vitamin deficiency or a lack of oxygen reaching the parts of the body due to anemia.
Depression is caused by many different factors that need to be considered, such as:
- Certain medications: Drugs such as corticosteroids and isotretinoin, a medication used to treat acne, have been linked to a risk of depression.
- Genetic: A family history of depression may increase your risk of depression.
- Trauma: Past abuse, whether physical, sexual or psychological, can lead to clinical depression later in life.
- Chronic pain: Chronic pain depletes a person’s energy over time and can lead to depression.
- Grief: Grief, like from losing a loved one, can lead to depression.
- Conflict: Vulnerable people dealing with personal conflicts between friends and family members may suffer from depression or a higher risk of developing depression.
- Substance abuse: Approximately 30% of people (WebMD) with addictions and substance abuse problems also suffer from clinical depression or major depression.
These are all different factors that can play a role in the risk of developing and the development of depression. If you suffered from abuse, have dealt with substance abuse or have any of these factors in your life, you may have a predisposition to depression that needs to be addressed.
If the cause of depression in your case is linked to the use of a medication or to a chronic illness, getting your depression under control may rely on controlling the illness or switching medications. Once the reason for the symptoms is discovered, the staff at FHE Health can talk to you more about your options for integrating medications and medical treatments into your treatment plan.
In some cases, treating an underlying condition is all that is needed to relieve the symptoms of depression and to get you back to feeling like yourself again.
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When depression is not linked to an illness or factors that can be controlled easily, you may need to take specific medications designed to treat it. Depression is often treated with medications prescribed by a medical professional, and there are many different kinds. Often, these are given in combination with one another to address different symptoms. No two people with depression are alike, so it is possible that you may need to try several medications before you find the right one, or a combination, that works well for you. There are several groups of medications for depression. They include:
Tricyclic antidepressants work by targeting brain chemicals in order to ease the symptoms of depression. These drugs are among the earliest medications for treating depression, so they are not as widely prescribed as newer medications that may be as or more effective and with fewer side effects. Tricyclic antidepressants specifically affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, changing how communication occurs between the brain’s nerve cells in order to achieve symptom relief. While doctors still prescribe these drugs, the unpleasant side effects of these medications (drowsiness, dizziness, urine retention, etc.) often mean they are not a first go-to in treating depression.
Some people experience what is referred to as “treatment-resistant depression,” meaning their depressive symptoms do not find relief from multiple mainline antidepressants. In these cases, a doctor may prescribe an antipsychotic drug instead. Generally, doctors prescribe antipsychotics to treat conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Sometimes, though, doctors will prescribe antipsychotics for severe depression as an “add-on” medication to complement other antidepressant drugs. These drugs work by altering certain brain chemicals that block high levels of dopamine that are thought to be involved in the onset of psychotic feelings. Some antipsychotics also affect mood and symptoms like extreme agitation, anxiety, and feelings of depression.
Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
Frequently, doctors prescribe selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) to patients experiencing depression or anxiety as well as nerve pain. SNRIs work by targeting neurotransmitters in order to more effectively regulate mood. Some people experience side effects like nausea or dry mouth when taking these drugs, but often these effects subside and vanish in time.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are among the most frequently prescribed drugs for treating depression today. SSRIs combat the symptoms of depression by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. A boost in serotonin may improve communication between neurotransmitters and in turn alleviate the symptoms of depression in many cases. SSRIs are largely very effective for treating depression and offer fewer side effects. The most commonly prescribed SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram, and paroxetine.
Atypical antidepressants are drugs that don’t quite fit into the other categories of drugs that treat depression. They are similar to other antidepressants in that they, too, change the brain’s chemistry to achieve a specific outcome: mood improvement. Atypical antidepressants are designed to change the levels of one or more of the brain’s neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine. Some of these drugs can cause side effects such as dizziness and dry mouth. Some of the most widely prescribed atypical antidepressants include bupropion and trazodone.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
As the first type of antidepressants developed to treat depression, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have mainly been replaced by newer classes of antidepressants like SSRIs. Although MAOIs are effective for treating depression, they tend to cause more serious side effects like increased blood pressure. These drugs also target neurotransmission in order to alleviate symptoms of depression. They are sometimes prescribed to treat other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
Not all of these medications work for every patient. For example, a patient with psychotic depression or bipolar disorder may benefit from taking antipsychotics and antidepressants together, whereas someone struggling with depression and anxiety may benefit from using SSRIs, SNRIs or antidepressants. At FHE Health, we provide an in-depth psychiatric assessment that allows our medical team to evaluate which medications may be best for you and to discuss these options with you.
Natural Options for Depression Treatment
After hearing the benefits and downsides of using medications for depression, you might opt not to use them. If you do not want to or cannot take medications or are looking for a way to boost your health to treat depression, you may want to consider lifestyle changes. Even small changes to your lifestyle can help fight depression. Some changes that help include:
- Healthy eating
- Losing weight
These seemingly small changes help boost the production of serotonin, can improve your self-image and sense of well-being through mindfulness and give you more confidence.
Can Depression Be Cured?
Over 16 million adults had been through at least a single major depressive episode as of 2016. Depression cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be treated. The illness can go into remission, and you can feel like yourself again with the appropriate treatment plan.
Living With Depression Disorder
According to Science Direct, depression has a high risk of recurrence, with 50% or more patients reporting more than a single major depressive episode in their lifetimes. As a chronic condition, you need to learn to live with depression, to seek treatment when necessary and to build up a strong support system.
Some great ways to manage depression include:
- Building up a support network of friends and family members
- Going to regular medical appointments to discuss your current symptoms with medical providers
- Having a plan of action to reduce anxiety about the potential for recurrence after remission
- Going to a support group
- Taking the medications you receive as prescribed and informing your medical provider if they are not working as intended
Call FHE Health for Help With Depression Treatment in Adults
At FHE Health, we focus on treating mental health conditions as well as substance abuse and addiction patients. We know how hard it can be to overcome these challenges and are always here to help. Our compassionate team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call at (833) 596-3502.