Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier the treatment begins, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
If you think you may have depression, your first step should be talking to your doctor. If the doctor can find no medical condition that may be causing the depression, the next step is a psychological evaluation, which should determine the best therapy for you.
Your doctor may prescribe you antidepressants. It can take 3 or 4 weeks until the medicine takes effect. Often, symptoms such as sleep, appetite, and concentration problems improve before mood lifts. It is important not to stop taking antidepressants without the help of a doctor.
Antidepressants are generally considered safe, but some studies have suggested that they may have unintentional effects, especially in young people. Possible side effects to look for are depression that gets worse, suicidal thinking or behaviour, or any unusual changes in behaviour such as trouble sleeping, agitation, or withdrawal from normal social situations. Any such changes should be reported to doctor.
For mild to moderate depression, psychotherapy may be the best option. Psychotherapy can help you figure out why you feel the way you do and how to manage difficult emotions. It might help you to overcome certain fears, or change behaviours that aren’t helping you manage your feelings.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help an individual with depression change negative thinking. It can help you interpret your environment and interactions in a positive, realistic way and change behaviours that may be making the depression worse.
Interpersonal therapy is designed to help an individual understand and work through troubled relationships that may cause the depression or make it worse.
Problem-solving therapy can improve an individual’s ability to cope with stressful life experiences. Using a step-by-step process, you identify problems and come up with realistic solutions.
A combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the most effective approach to treating major depression.
As you begin to recognise your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better. During treatment, you should try to:
- Be active. It is important to keep moving and exercise.
- Break up large tasks into small ones and don’t push yourself too hard. Do what you can as you can.
- Spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
- Postpone important decisions until you feel better.
Remember: overcoming depression takes time. Positive thinking will gradually replace negative thoughts as your treatment progresses.