Ask a Psychiatrist: How Is Depression Treated?

psychiatrist New York, NY

Any psychiatrist will tell you that depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders. With time, most people with depression respond well to treatment. Many of them gain some relief from their symptoms. Read on to learn more about treatment options for depression.

How a psychiatrist can help treat depression

Depression, also referred to as major depressive disorder, is a serious and common medical illness. It can have a negative impact on the way a person feels, thinks and acts. Some symptoms include having a depressed mood or feeling sad, loss of pleasure or interest in all or most normal activities, appetite changes and weight gain or loss unrelated to dieting. Other symptoms include sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping, increased fatigue or loss of energy, feeling guilty or worthless, trouble concentrating, thinking or making decisions, slowed speech and body movements and thoughts of suicide or death. Fortunately, depression is treatable.

Before a patient is diagnosed or treated, a health care practitioner will carry out a thorough diagnostic evaluation. This may include an interview and a physical examination. Sometimes, a blood test may be required to ensure the depression is not because of a medical condition such as a thyroid problem. The evaluation is meant to identify particular symptoms, medical and family history and environment and cultural factors. This will help to determine a diagnosis and plan a course of action. Here are some treatment options for depression.

Medications

Brain chemistry can contribute to a person’s depression so it may factor into treatment. Antidepressants may help to modify a patient’s brain chemistry. A patient may feel some improvement after using them within the first week or two. They usually help improve the way the brain uses particular chemicals that control stress or mood.

The full benefits may be experienced after two or three months. After several weeks, if there is no improvement, a psychiatrist may decide to either alter the dose of the medication or substitute or add another antidepressant. Sometimes, other psychotropic medications may be recommended. Psychiatrists often recommend that people continue taking medication for six or more months after the symptoms have improved.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is in some cases used alone for the treatment of mild depression. For moderate to severe depression, it can be used together with antidepressant medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help people with depression. CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on the present as well as problem-solving.

This form of therapy helps people to recognize distorted thinking and then change thinking and behaviors. Psychotherapy may involve only the patient, but depending on a patient’s needs, it can include others. Depending on how severe the depression is, treatment can take only a few weeks or more time. Most times, immense improvement can be realized in 10 to 15 sessions.

Visit your psychiatrist

Depression is a serious mood disorder, but it is treatable. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with depression can overcome it. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of depression, the first thing you should do is to see your psychiatrist or family doctor. You should talk about your concerns and opt for a thorough evaluation. This is a good start to addressing mental health needs.

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