Clinical Depression Treatments: Available Options

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Clinical Depression Treatments: Introduction

There are many different forms of clinical depression treatments including medications, counseling and electroconvulsive therapy. The main thing to understand is that clinical depression is treatable and that help is out there for anyone who needs it.

Sometimes, a person who has depression can receive medications from a primary care physician. However, most of the time it is beneficial for people with depression to see a mental health specialist. Typically, the most effective treatment for clinical depression is a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

Clinical Depression Treatments: Medication

Antidepressant medications are often prescribed by psychiatrists as the first weapon against clinical depression symptoms. They can make it easier for a person to face their problems and work through them. There are many types of antidepressants and they are grouped by the effect they have on the naturally occurring chemicals in the brain involved in a person’s mood.

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Most physicians begin depression treatment with an SSRI because they cause fewer side effects and are safer than other types of drugs. This type of medication works by adjusting the neurochemical serotonin. The drugs slow down the absorption of serotonin selectively. Some brand name SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro), sertraline (Zoloft) and paroxetine (Paxil).

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs alleviate depression by blocking the absorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These antidepressants include desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta). This type of medication has side effects that are comparative to those of SSRIs.

  • Tricyclic medications (TCAs): This antidepressant group of medications is the most common and has been used for many years. The drugs prevent the reuptake of either norepinephrine or serotonin (or both) into presynaptic nerve endings. The result is the synaptic concentrations of these neurotransmitters increase. Additionally, they bring about the slow loss in the number of beta-adrenergic receptors. TCAs also seem to have more side effects than the newer antidepressants.

  • Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs): This type of clinical depression treatment increases the amounts of both norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain by inhibiting their reabsorption back into nerve cells. Their heightened levels are believed to help elevate mood and therefore lessen depression. At the time of writing (Feb 2010) the only FDA approved drug is bupropion (Wellbutrin).

  • Atypical antidepressants: Medications in this group include mirtazapine (Remeron) and trazodone (Desyrel). These drugs are used for sedation and are mostly taken at night.

Psychotherapy Clinical Depression Treatments

Psychotherapy counseling is another very important clinical depression treatment. It involves talking with a mental health specialist about how the individual may be feeling and what they are suffering from.

By discussing feelings, a person can learn what the exact cause of the depression might be and how to overcome it. They also learn how to recognize and modify the thoughts and behaviors that are unhealthy. An individual can also share their feelings about experiences and relationships, search for improved ways to handle and resolve troubles, and put in place rational objectives in their life. Additionally, therapy can help a person with a present critical predicament. Therapy can be carried out on a one-to-one basis, in a group setting or in a family session.

Some people who suffer from mild to moderate depression can do well with psychotherapy alone; however, people with clinical depression tend to do better with a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants. Some of the common elements in psychotherapy are:

  • Listening: The therapist, by listening attentively, can relate to what the person is going through helping him or her to feel they are being understood.
  • Emotional release: This allows the individual or patient to let go or let it all out emotionally. This is very helpful at the start of the treatment.
  • Guidance and direction: In psychotherapy, the patient is guided in the right direction towards a healing solution.
  • Supplying information: Depressive patients might not remember much of what they have been told about their illness because of poor concentration. Sometimes, information must be given to the individual more than once and possibly in written form.

Psychotherapy can be very helpful in working out emotional problems, but it does require the patient’s time and energy in order for it to work. Psychotherapy can help a person be happier and more in control of their life by decreasing their depression symptoms.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Treatment for Clinical Depression

When electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is used as a clinical depression treatment, electrical currents are passed through the patient’s brain. This treatment is believed to have an influence on neurotransmitter levels. ECT is mostly used for people with clinical depression when other treatments are not working, especially if medication isn’t helping and there is a risk of suicide. Some professionals are wary about using ECT and its possible side effects, but it has been known to immediately relieve severe depression in some people.


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