What are my treatment options for severe depression?

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It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults in the United States, or 6.7 percent of American adults, have had severe depression in a given year. Depression is no uncommon feat today. It’s a prominent, growing mental health concern, especially during this unprecedented time of self-isolation and social distancing.

Despite how common depression is, many people still suffer in silence, unsure of how to get the help they need to feel more positive and fulfilled in life.

In this blog post, we shed some light on the different treatment options available for severe depression, and how you or a loved one can go about starting your journey towards a happier and healthier life.

1. Medications

There lots of depression medications worth considering, only on the advice of your doctor or physician, of course. Self-medication for severe depression is strongly advised against, as many medications come with a selection of unique side effects that may cause more harm than good.

But, if you’ve visited your doctor and wish to medicate, there are some options available to you, including:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 

SSRI is the most common group of anti-depressant drugs, prescribed by doctors. This category of medication often causes fewer side effects, as well as working to reduce the re-absorption of serotonin, which helps to stabilize its effect on the body. This helps a person pull themselves ‘out of a slump’, so to speak.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) 

SNRIs are like SSRIs, except they stop the reuptake of not only serotonin, but also of norepinephrine, the naturally occurring chemical associated with stress.

Atypical antidepressants

These medications don’t fit into any of the other antidepressant categories. Atypical antidepressants ease depression by affecting neurotransmitters used to communicate between brain cells. Ultimately, they work by forcing neurochemistry changes in brain nerve cell activity, which helps regulate mood and relieve depression.

Tricyclic antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants are more potent than other antidepressant medications, and they typically vary in side effects. These types of drugs aren’t often prescribed unless more standard SSRIs aren’t working.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Finally, there’s MAOIs. These drugs are arguably the most potent antidepressants available, and often have serious side effects. Using MAOIs requires a strict diet, as they often cause people to have dangerous interactions with food (such as cheeses, wines and pickles).

2. Lifestyle changes

Another effective way to treat severe depression might be to re-examine your lifestyle and consider making positive changes that will help shift your mood from apathetic to energetic.

Many people find that coming off substances like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine can have a positive effect a person’s overall mindset. Recreational drugs can also impact a person’s depressive tendencies, and mixed together, this can lead to addiction and dependency.

Other lifestyle changes might include:

  • Regular exercise and outdoor time
  • A healthy diet filled with nutritious food
  • Getting enough uninterrupted sleep at night
  • Slowing down and reducing the pressure on yourself to ‘succeed’ in life
  • Getting in enough social contact time with loved ones

Of course, during this time of pandemic, getting enough social contact can be difficult. After all, we’re all self-isolating and socially distancing. A hug has never had so much value. If you feel like this time of social isolation is affecting your depression more, be sure to speak with someone and consciously try to change your lifestyle to cater for this change.

3. Therapy

Many rehab centers work to treat severe depression using a mix of the above, as well as therapy sessions. Through talk therapy and intimate one-to-one sessions, a person can begin to understand the backstory of why they are depressed, and why they feel low in confidence, mood and energy. Speaking to an experienced therapist can be invaluable when uncovering the context needed to understand the ‘why’ of depression, and this can help you develop the right coping mechanisms for when feelings of low mood strikes again.

Seeking the right treatment for depression

Sticking to an effective and personalized treatment plan is one of the most important things you can do to overcome depression. Although at times you may not want to continue, it is critical to the success of the treatment that you push past those feelings and continue to encourage positive, self-affirming behaviors.

Of course, finding the right treatment program that works for you is often a matter of trial and error. Severe depression affects people in a multitude of ways, and as a consequence, effective treatment is subjective, not objective.

You should also talk to your therapist about your feelings toward your therapy sessions and your overall treatment plan. This allows them to work with you and make changes if your treatment plan isn’t working. At Tikvah Lake Recovery, we work with each individual to ensure their treatment program is as personalized as possible. This allows for a greater success rate, and ultimately, it makes for happier and healthier patients.

To find out more about how we can help treat you or a loved one with severe depression, contact an expert today.

About Adam Nesenoff

Adam Nesenoff has been working in recovery for over ten years.

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