Depression Treatments- What To Expect

Are you checking in for depression treatments?

 Have you decided to set an appointment for depression treatments? This might just be your first step to recovery. Depression is a serious illness, the good part is that it is treatable but the bad part is that it is not a one way process- there’s no single way to treat it. Different people are affected differently by the condition. If you have decided that you really need help, there are certain things to expect from treatment.

Depression treatments- Getting Started

Your Doctor Appointment

If you think you’re depressed and want to start some form of depression treatments, the first thing to do is to have a session with a doctor. An expert – This could be your primary care physician or a specialist in mental health.

They’ll start by asking you some general questions about your health and how you’re feeling. These are designed to help figure out whether you have the symptoms of depression, another mental health condition, or whether your problem might have a physical cause. For instance, you might be asked to give a blood sample to run a few tests, so doctors can look for signs of conditions like thyroid problems,which also can be the cause of the symptoms you are experiencing.

Possible forms of depression treatments you might be placed on

If your doctor thinks you’re depressed, your first treatment will depend on what the doctor thinks is going on.

  • Your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. These are medications designed to relieve the symptoms of depression.
  • Your doctor might refer you to a mental health specialist. That could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or some other type of counselor. They would talk with you about your problems and feelings, and figure out how to address them. This is psychotherapy or “talk therapy.”
  • Most likely, your treatment will involve some combination of the two.

Antidepressants- How they work

Antidepressants can help you feel better. Scientists believe they work by helping brain circuits that regulate mood work more efficiently. The most common types of antidepressants work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin helps transmit messages from one area of the brain area to another. If you’re given antidepressants, it may take 2 to 4 weeks for the medication to start producing a noticeable effect. Your doctor will most likely want you to take a drug for at least several months, maybe up to a year.

Doctors typically start with medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) because they have the fewest side effects. Still, with any antidepressant, you could experience:

  • Nausea
  • Nervousness or sleeping difficulty
  • feelings of dry mouth
  • Restlessness
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness or dizziness, or blurred vision
  • headaches
  • Sexual problems, such as trouble keeping an erection

The FDA warns that anyone taking antidepressants should be watched closely, particularly in the first few weeks. Children, teenagers, and young adults might have more negative thoughts, possibly even suicidal thoughts, tendencies or behaviours while taking antidepressants.

Sometimes, one may need to try a few different antidepressants before finding one that works well with fewer manageable symptoms. You might have side effects during the first few weeks of taking an antidepressant. These usually get better. If you’ve given it a few months and it doesn’t seem to get better, or if your side effects are making it hard for you to take it, go back to your doctor. He might recommend a different drug.

Do not generalise these side effects because the way individuals react to them might be different and side effects might not necessarily be the same in everyone. Taking recommendations from someone who has previously used a specific antidepressant for depression treatments might not work out. Always seek your doctors advise.

Also, don’t stop taking your medication on your own. That can cause more problems. When it’s time to stop, your doctor will slowly reduce your dose to let your body readjust.

Learn a little more about side effects of antidepressants used in depression therapy

Depression Treatments- Psychotherapy

This involves sitting down with a mental health professional who can help you better understand your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Together, you’ll try to figure out what helps you feel better.

Psychotherapy can help you figure out why you feel the way you do and how to manage difficult emotions better. It might help you to overcome certain fears, or change behaviours that aren’t helping you manage your feelings.

Sessions take place on a regular schedule, maybe once or twice a week depending on what you need. The sessions are meant to be neutral, nonjudgmental, and confidential. While your medications take time to work, a mental health professional can:

  • Show you how your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour affect your condition
  • Help you organise yourself and better manage your stress
  • Offer ways to improve your dealings with other people
  • Help you spot early signs of a problem and get help
  • Help you confront and overcome fears that aren’t helping you

This type of  treatment takes time, maybe months or more than a year, depending on how serious your condition is. The good news is that some people feel better in a matter of weeks. You and your therapist will decide when you’ve made enough progress to stop.

One thing to note is that if you are not comfortable with the therapist, do not feel ashamed to speak out because it will affect the result of your treatment. Many have had to look for experts you are able to talk freely to. You too may need to try a few different therapists to find one you are comfortable sharing your feelings with.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

If your situation is severe enough, and drugs and psychotherapy aren’t totally helping, your doctor might recommend electroconvulsive therapy abbreviated as ECT. This involves sending a small, painless electric current through your brain while you’re asleep under general anesthesia, which causes a brief seizure. This can relieve the symptoms of depression you are battling with.

ECT is also known as electroshock therapy. Although it has a controversial history but is now considered an effective treatment for depression.

Modern ECT is performed in a series of sessions (either inpatient or outpatient) over up to 4 weeks. You’ll be given anesthesia to make you sleep, and you won’t feel the current or the seizure. But it has some side effects. They can include headaches, nausea, confusion, disorientation, and memory loss, which can last for several months. If your doctor is recommending ECT, be sure to talk about the pros and cons before agreeing.

Other Forms of Depression Treatments

Besides ECT, other technologies have been developed in recent years. They treat depression by stimulating areas of the brain that are believed to control mood. They’re used when other depression treatments haven’t worked.

  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is an FDA-approved procedure that uses a magnetic coil to stimulate specific brain areas over a series of treatments lasting several weeks.  Patients are wide awake and feel no pain or discomfort. 
  • Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) is an operation that puts a device under the collarbone and then attaches a thin wire to the vague nerve in your neck. The device sends signals to regions of the brain that affect mood. 
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an experimental procedure that puts thin electrodes deep within the brain to directly stimulate to areas that handle emotions.

What You Can Do To Help

No matter what your treatment includes, there are other things you can do to improve the outcome of your depression treatments. Your doctor might also also suggest you do some of these things. These include exercises, adding some food to your diet, and losing weight. All of these can help your mood. It’s also important that you get enough sleep. If you’re having problems sleeping, let your doctor know. It may also help to cut back on caffeine and alcohol.

Read changes you might need to make in your diet: Foods that help you boost your mental health and overcome depression.

Your doctor may also suggest you join a support group. They can put you in touch with people who are facing the same thing. They may be able to offer you advice and give you the motivation you need especially when it seems to hard.

In All

If you have been battling with depression and have decided to try some form of depression treatments, it is a bold step moving forward. Nevertheless, consider all your options carefully and prayerfully before you proceed. Always work with an expert and remember this, results might not be immediate and it might take some time to get the real you back. It might be frustrating and unpleasant but you will in time recover.

Stay Positive

Briefly on how to get started: 10 tips on how to get your depression treatments started

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