If you, or someone you know, have been given a depression diagnosis, it can be an emotional time. You may feel relieved to have received a diagnosis and can now seek treatment, or you may feel anxious about the depression treatment you’ll have. All these feelings and emotions are normal. Your GP is likely to have recommended a choice of treatments for depression, which we cover here in detail.
A GP may recommend the use of antidepressant medication for someone who is depressed, particularly if they are considered to have moderate to severe depression that has gone on for some time. Antidepressants generally work by changing the levels of chemicals in the brain that are related to mood and emotion. Most commonly prescribed are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as citalopram or fluoxetine. Very severe depression may require tricyclic antidepressants.
Antidepressants may take a little while to start working and the length of time you need to take them will be up to you and your GP to assess, according to how you are feeling. It’s likely you will need to take them for 6 months at least. It’s important to discuss with your GP before you stop taking your medication, as they will need to monitor and advise you on the best way to reduce your dosage before you stop completely. This is because withdrawal symptoms may occur.
The NHS also provides information about a range of other antidepressant medications.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a popular therapeutic treatment for depression, usually carried out between a person with depression (or other mental health condition) and a trained practitioner. It is based on the theory that the way we think affects how we feel and how we behave, and that by changing our thought processes, we can change our outlook and daily life. Many therapists use practical methods for breaking down negative thought patterns that may cause depression, such as written activities and workbooks. They are likely to challenge thoughts within a therapy session. Some people find this difficult at first. Not everyone finds CBT works to help them recover from depression, but lots of people find it helps them and they continue to use the techniques for positive thinking through the rest of their lives.
To find out more about if this depression treatment is suitable for you, visit the NHS website.
Mindfulness is a meditative practice that encourage a person to live in the present moment and not get too wrapped up in their thoughts. It is proven to help change the way a person’s brain works, and some people with depression may find it useful. Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of the present moment and avoid pushing away thoughts and feelings. People who practice mindfulness often report that they feel less stressed, less anxious and happier. Mindfulness can be challenging, especially for people with low mood or depression, so it isn’t for everyone. For more information on mindfulness, visit the NHS website.
Counselling, talking therapy and other therapies
There are a range of options if you would like to use therapy as a depression treatment. Talking therapies and counselling services can help you to open up about problems, thoughts, fears, and feelings that you have kept internally for some time. A good therapist can help you explore your feelings in a safe environment, but talking therapies are often challenging and can bring up lots of emotions, memories and feelings.
There are many other therapy types according to what you want to achieve, what feelings and experiences you have had. Different people respond better to different treatments. To find out more about therapy depression treatments, visit the Mental Health Foundation website.
Depression can affect how a person feels about food and eating. Depression symptoms can include a loss of appetite, whilst some people overeat when they are depressed. A healthy, balanced diet can actually be a great depression help. Eating well gives our body the energy it needs to function. Many people with depression do not eat a healthy, balanced diet and this affects their energy levels, which may then cause them to feel more tired and, consequently, their moods may be negatively affected further. Similarly, dehydration can have an effect on mood, so drinking lots of water is important for someone experiencing depression.
For advice on eating a healthy diet for depression, visit the Mind website.
Many people take herbal, vitamin and mineral supplements for depression. St. John’s Wort is a well-known and effective solution for people with depression, but it must not be taken with other medications. Other supplements include vitamin D, 5-HTP, vitamin B and omega 3. Always speak to your GP before taking depression supplements of any sort.
Exercise for depression
Exercise can boost feel-good hormones called endorphins so it can be helpful for a person with depression to do some physical activity. Depression exercise doesn’t have to be anything fancy, it can simply be taking a walk every day, but it can help, especially if you have mild to moderate depression. However, for some people living with depression that is severe, even getting out of bed can be difficult, so taking up exercise can seem an impossible task.
For more information on exercise for depression download this Mental Health Foundation leaflet.
Depression and employment
People with depression are able to work but may find working difficult. Your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments if you need support for depression, for example, changes to your workload or working environment. It is up to you if you tell your employer about your depression. Mind offers advice about telling your employer you have depression.
If you are an employer and are concerned that one of your employees may have depression, read this information leaflet about providing depression support to staff.