Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 05, 2012

Sources

Mark Gilson, PhD, co-author, Overcoming Depression: A Cognitive Therapy Approach; clinical psychologist; co-founder, Atlanta Center for Cognitive Therapy. Patrice Harris, MD, psychiatrist, director of Health for Fulton County, Georgia.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: Loss of interest and trouble concentrating. Changes in diet. Problems sleeping. While symptoms of depression can be similar for different patients, successful treatment is often a unique path for each individual.

Patrice Harris, MD: Because we know this treatment is not a one-size fits all.

Narrator: Most professionals in the mental health field work with their patients to tweak their medications and therapies to tailor treatments to fit specific needs…

Patrice Harris, MD: Someone comes in and they've been on a particular medication, then off it for some time. It worked before, that's the first thing I've started them on. Sometimes even we take advantage of the side effects. Say there's an atidepressant that makes people a little sleepy, and this person, one of their symptoms of depression is not sleeping. I'll consider that antidepressant that makes them a little sleepy. So in addition to treating the depression has sort of an immediate effect on their inability to sleep.

Narrator: For some with mild cases of depression something as simple as an increase in activity may help. Recent research confirms the positive effects exercise has on brain function and in fact, many doctors now recommend it as part of the first-line of defense. For those who do require treatment, however, finding the right therapist to guide them through it is critical.

Patrice Harris, MD: I think the key word in working with patients at least in my practice, and I think most doctors feel this way, is collaboration.

Depression patient: Over the course of time I found myself spending more time sleeping… losing some interest in work…losing some interest in family…

Narrator: This man is currently in treatment for depression so we've hidden his identity. His clinical psychologist, Mark Gilson, is using a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy. Here the thought-patterns that continually lead a person into a cycle of dysfunction are targeted.

Depression patient: Well what we've done is that we've taken a look at the issues that I've…that I've come in with. Uhmmm…it's low self worth…inactivity…loss of desire…those issues…are interrelated…and they can keep you on that rollercoaster…

Mark Gilson, phd: If we can identify that thought, then we have something…we have something that we can challenge and come up with alternative interpretations…

Narrator: Cognitive behavioral therapy can be very successful and adding various medications may also be helpful for some patients.

Patrice Harris, MD: The data is clear that the gold standard is therapy and medication, either alone or in combination.

Narrator: But for others standard therapy may not be enough…

Patrice Harris, MD: In modern times, electroconvulsive therapy (ect) is an appropreate treatment modality reserved for certain subsets of patient.

Narrator: For many gripped by depression, getting treatment that helps them alter the way they interpret information and events towards more positive outcomes can be the tipping point that leads to a happier life.

Depression patient: My motivation level has gone way up…this past weekend was probably the best weekend we've had in… and we didn't do anything other than go out to dinner—twice…

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg