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Depression Treatment Options


What Are the Types of Antidepressants?

There are several types of antidepressants that improve of depression. The major types of antidepressants include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs  work by altering the amount of a chemical in the brain called serotonin.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs are another form of antidepressant medicine that treat depression by increasing availability of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). TCAs primarily affect the levels of two chemical messengers in the brain, norepinephrine and serotonin. Although these drugs are effective in treating depression, they can have more side effects than other drugs. So, they typically aren't the first drugs prescribed. 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs are most effective in people with depression who do not respond to other treatments. They are also effective for treating other mental illnesses. Substances in certain foods like cheese and aged meats, and certain medications (like decongestants or some cough syrups) can interact dangerously with an MAOI. So people taking this drug must adhere to strict dietary restrictions. For this reason these antidepressants also aren't usually the first drugs prescribed.

There are other antidepressants that are not members of these classes.



Why Are Stimulants Prescribed for Depression?

Doctors sometimes prescribe other medications such as stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs to use in conjunction with an antidepressant. This is especially likely if the patient has a co-existing mental or physical disorder. However, neither anti-anxiety medications nor stimulants are effective against depression when taken alone.

Talk to your doctor about this type of treatment. Ask if it might boost the effect of your antidepressant.

What Is Psychotherapy's Role in Depression Treatment?

The role of psychotherapy in treating depression is to help the person develop appropriate and workable coping strategies, as well as to “restructure” attitudes and outlooks that are influenced by depression. These strategies help deal with everyday stressors and increase medication adherence. There are different types of psychotherapy, including individual, family, and group therapy. Your doctor will help you find the best type of psychotherapy for you.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Psychotherapy for Depression.

When Is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Recommended for Depression?

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), also known as electroshock therapy, is typically used to treat severe depression. During ECT, a skilled doctor applies a brief electric current through the scalp to the brain while the patient is sedated. This current induces a seizure. ECT is very effective at treating depression.

ECT is generally used when severe depression is unresponsive to other forms of therapy. Or it might be used when patients pose a severe threat to themselves or others and it is dangerous to wait until medications take effect.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for Depression.

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