Once you have a depression diagnosis, your doctor will discuss various depression treatment options with you.
The kind of depression treatment that's best for you depends on the type of depression you have. For example, some patients with clinical depression are treated with psychotherapy, and some are prescribed antidepressants. Others are prescribed antidepressants and psychotherapy. Still others who don't respond to standard depression treatments may opt to try brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also called electroshock therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
Antidepressants, especially when combined with talk therapy, generally help people recover from depression. Symptoms begin to improve within weeks for the majority of people taking antidepressants. And people who take antidepressants long-term -- up to 36 months -- have a relapse rate of only 18% compared to 40% for those who do not.
But if they work so well, why do so many people stop taking antidepressants within a few weeks of starting them? Or skip doses when they start to feel better?
In people with bipolar depression, traditional antidepressants are not always effective and sometimes can make mood swings worse; doctors therefore often prescribe other types of medicines to treat bipolar depression, including mood stabilizers (such as Depakote, lithium or Lamictal) or some atypical antipsychotics (such as Seroquel or Symbyax) that are proven remedies for bipolar depression.
Whatever depression treatment your doctor prescribes, it's important to understand that there are no "instant" solutions. You may have to try different antidepressants to find the most effective drug for you. In addition, you'll have to take the antidepressant for several weeks to see if it benefits you at all. Being patient is important. Trust your doctor to know your personal history. With that, he or she can find the best depression treatment options that help improve your mood.
What Are Depression Drugs?
Depression drugs can help lift your mood and ease the sadness and hopelessness you feel. You'll need to work with your doctor to find the depression medicine that is most effective with the fewest side effects.
Many chemicals are involved in the brain circuits that regulate mood. Three known important chemicals are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters transmit electrical signals between brain cells.
Researchers have found a link between a chemical imbalance in these brain chemicals and depression. Antidepressant medications increase the availability of neurotransmitters or by changing the sensitivity of the receptors for these chemical messengers. It is believed that modifying these brain chemicals can help improve mood, although the exact way they work is still unclear.