Recent research has begun to shed light on new ways to treat depression in individuals that may have been resistant to treatment in the past. Unfortunately, depression is a mental health condition that doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all plan for healing. For some people, depression arises from a temporary situation such as a recent loss, and the symptoms gradually go away with time and the appropriate type of therapy. Others who struggle with clinical depression may have a neurochemical issue that needs treatment for them to find relief. While dealing with this condition is not easy, you can take advantage of the latest treatments for depression to improve your mood and get the most out of life.
The symptoms of depression vary from one person to another. Yet there are some common signs which you should be aware of. As you read this list of symptoms, remember that it is not necessary to display all of them, and you may notice that some of them come and go. Even with cases of serious depression, people tend to have some days that are better than others. As a general rule, any of the following symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with your daily life warrant a visit to a mental health professional who can provide an accurate diagnosis:
• Difficulty with decision-making
• Insomnia or excessive sleeping
• Physical pain with no obvious cause
• Feelings of hopelessness
• Overeating or loss of appetite
• Digestive disorders that resist treatment
• Contemplation of suicide
It is also important to note that depression can manifest in many ways and can follow a variety of major life event. For example, postpartum depression is common after having a baby, and it can linger for more than a year. For this reason, you will want to mention to your doctor any major changes that accompanied the symptoms of depression such as recently losing a loved one, or being demoted in your career. Additionally, suicidal thoughts, talk about taking one’s life, or an actual attempt is an emergency situation that requires immediate attention from a health care professional.
Latest Research on Treatments
When a person has depression, they cannot just snap out of it. For years, the majority of people with depression have relied upon prescription medications to relieve their symptoms. While these are still effective, you should be aware that some of the latest treatments for depression are showing that they can be effective either with medication or without depending upon each individual’s response. Some of the most recent advances in depression treatment include the following types of treatment:
• Electroconvulsive Therapy – This form of therapy is reserved for the most severe medication-resistant types of depression that have reached life-threatening levels. With electroconvulsive therapy, electric impulses are used to generate controlled seizures within the brain. A typical round will include six to 12 sessions being delivered across several weeks. Afterward, follow up therapy is provided to continue building upon the results.
• Vagus Nerve Stimulation – Electrical impulses are also used in this type of therapy. However, the device used to deliver the electrical impulses is surgically implanted into your body, and it can take more than nine months to begin to feel the effects. It is also only effective in approximately one out of three patients. Due to the semi-permanent nature of the device, this therapy is only available to those with depression that fails to respond to multiple trials of less-invasive treatments.
• Talk Therapy – For those with mild cases of depression, cognitive behavioral therapy treatment offers a simpler way to learn how to manage one’s thoughts. This type of treatment is performed on an outpatient basis, and it involves helping people learn how their thoughts and behaviors influence their symptoms. If you have found that talk therapy did not work in the past, you can still find relief with this method by choosing a different therapist. It can also be effective if your depression sprang from a specific situation that you need to address before you can move on.
In addition to medical treatments, there are many things that you can do at home to alleviate many of your symptoms. Home remedies can be used along with medication and therapy for severe cases, or you can use comforting strategies on your own when your depression is mild or suspected to be temporary. Some effective home remedies include the following:
• Herbal Supplements – St. John’s Wort is an herb commonly known for helping promote a better mood. However, it is not effective for everyone and may interfere with certain medications. For this reason, it should only be tried with the advice of a health professional.
• Yoga and Meditation – Gaining control over one’s thoughts is an effective way to deal with the negative emotions that accompany depression. Yoga is also a form of exercise, which has been shown to have positive effects for lifting one’s mood as it involves quiet introspection.
• Massage Therapy – Depression can sometimes be related to long-term pain, or it may create tension within the body. The idea with this type of treatment is that relaxing the body helps the mind to follow.
• Music Therapy – This home remedy is simple and can be performed almost anywhere if you have headphones. Simply create a playlist of your favorite tunes and listen. Music has healing powers that stem from helping you to relax your mind while being transported to a different state of feeling.
• Exposure to Sunlight – Some types of depression occur during prolonged periods of sunlight deprivation such as occurs during the winter. Simply sitting in front of a sunny window or heading outside helps the sun to warm the body and stimulate vitamin D production. In places where the sun rarely emerges from the clouds, special light simulators can be used to generate a similar effect.
There have been many generations of antidepressants historically, but advances in the understanding of chemical changes in the brain have recently led to newer, safer medications being developed. This is wonderful news for people who may have tried and failed with older types of medications or those who simply couldn’t live with the side effects of their former treatment plan. These newer medications tend to affect the serotonin receptors in the brain or target the brain chemical dopamine to generate a more positive mindset.
Getting a Diagnosis
Depression is diagnosed differently than physical health problems. This sometimes makes it challenging for a physician to realize that there is a problem unless someone speaks up. For this reason, you may need to let your doctor know that you are struggling with depression symptoms. Your doctor may also offer you a screening if you have known risk factors such as recently giving birth or having dealt with a major change in your health. To make a diagnosis, your physician will listen to your physical and mental health concerns. They may also order lab tests to rule out physical ailments that cause similar symptoms. Once they have made sure that there is no other cause, they can then diagnose depression and make recommendations regarding the best course of treatment.
At some point, most people experience some type of depression symptoms. However, the real problem begins when they last longer than two weeks or do not respond to normal treatments. By being proactive regarding your or a loved one’s mental health symptoms, you can take advantage of the latest treatments to regain control over your health and happiness.