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Source:  Health-Net

Overview of Therapies for Depression

Antidepressant Medicines

Antidepressants can perform an very important role in the therapy of depression. If your physician chooses a drug that is an antidepressant. After much research into available medications he/she should prescribe what is the best educated guess for an effective drug. From your input, the medication may be changed, there are many other antidepressant medicines, that work in a different manner, that may be beneficial.

Most, antidepressant medicines work by increasing the supply of neurotransmitters in the brain in order to restore chemical balance. Antidepressant medications fall into a number of different categories. The tricyclic antidepressants and the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOs) make up two main classes. Lithium is primarily used for a particular kind of depression associated with "manic-depressive disorder," a condition characterized by wide mood swings both above (mania) and below (depression) the range of normal mood.

Both tricyclic and MAO antidepressants are effective for treating depression, but, as with all medications, the benefits can be accompanied by unwanted side effects. These may include dry mouth, drowsiness, weight gain, blurred vision, constipation, and dizziness upon standing. MAOs can also cause potentially dangerous high blood pressure unless certain foods and medications are avoided.

The recently introduced selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are newer antidepressants that have a selective action leading to a different product profile than those just mentioned.

The new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants appear to have a similar level of effectiveness compared to the older medications. The side effects most commonly caused by these medications include nausea and diarrhea or loose stools, tremor, and insomnia.

Some of the side effects of antidepressants are troublesome. If they are intolerable for you, your doctor may wish to prescribe a different medication.

Psychotherapy & Talk Therapy

Psychotherapy can take many forms, including supportive, cognitive, behavioral, and interpersonal psychotherapies. Some depressed people can be helped by having a concerned individual who simply listens, while others may need the help of a highly experienced analyst in thinking through difficult situations and problems that contribute to their depression. Psychotherapy can be short-term, designed to address a specific event or difficult time in a woman's life, or long-term, giving adequate time to explore larger concerns about the past, issues of identity, and/or past and present relationships, etc.

Family therapy is useful for people whose depression may be influenced by family situations. In this form of therapy, several members of the family, as well as the depressed patient, may participate in the therapy.

Group therapy is also an option for women who feel they would benefit from the support of a group of peers. Some women find that single-sex groups are less threatening and more comfortable than mixed-sex groups. Support groups for survivors of abuse, incest, rape, etc. offer the opportunity to share feelings and personal accounts with other women who have had similar experiences.

Assertiveness training and/or life planning sessions can be of benefit to depressed women who need to develop new ways of reacting to difficult situations. These programs can help women learn to set and achieve goals, evaluate situations objectively, and make time for themselves.

Other beneficial steps to take

Consumption of certain chemicals should be reduced or eliminated to lessen their effect on a depressed individual. These include nicotine and some over-the-counter medications, such as sleeping pills. Alcohol should be eliminated, since alcohol itself is a depressant. It is important to eat a good diet that includes plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Involvement in activities that you enjoy can enhance therapy and help eliminate depression. Physical exercise, in particular, has been shown to have a positive effect on depressed individuals.