Depression Treatment Choices
So you have depression, now what? There are many treatment choices available to patients with depression. Part of your treatment involves diagnosing your depression properly and assessing the severity of your depression.
You doctor will take into consideration your overall health, medical history and personal preferences when working with you to design a treatment plan. Often treating depression involves a series of stages.
Stage One Treatment
During stage one, or after you are first diagnosed, your doctor will assess how severe your symptoms are and what type of depression you have. The goal of early treatment most often is to help relieve the symptoms you may experience, including fatigue, sadness or low self-esteem. If you are suicidal, your doctor may recommend a more aggressive treatment approach than if you have mild depression.
Early or stage one treatment may include:
- Medication therapy to help relieve your symptoms and help you sleep.
- Psychotherapy to help you find the causes of your feelings or uncover underlying emotional causes for your depression.
- Lifestyle changes, including improving your diet or treating addictions that can contribute to your depression.
During the early stage of treatment your doctor will most likely monitor you closely. You may see your doctor as often as weekly, or bi-weekly, to make sure you start feeling better as quickly as possible.
Stage Two Treatment
Once your doctor identifies a course of treatment or combination of treatments that work to alleviate your primary symptoms, your doctor will then spend some time refining your treatment.
The goal of stage two treatments, which may last for six months or thereabouts, is to help you remain healthy and help prevent any recurring depression or anxiety. Your doctor may also be working to treat an underlying disorder like generalized anxiety or a thyroid disorder, which can lead to depression.
Stage Three Depression
Many people with depression will need ongoing support. This may last for a year or for a lifetime depending on your condition. If you have an underlying condition like bipolar disorder, thyroid disease or diabetes, you may need lifelong treatment to prevent recurrence and keep you feeling healthy.
Long-term treatment may involve continuous psychotherapy and monthly or bi-monthly doctor visits. You may not need to see your doctor this often or you may need to see them more often. It really depends on the type of depression you have, its underlying causes, and how well you respond to treatment.
If you take medications for depression and participate in group therapy or individual psychotherapy, it is important you continue with your treatments even after you start feeling better.
Often patients think once they feel better they can stop taking their medicines or revert to old "habits". Unfortunately, this can lead to a recurrence of depression. This is especially true for people that do not learn proper ways to cope with anxiety or stress, or for those treating an underlying disorder like thyroid disease.
If you have trouble with the idea of coping with a chronic illness, you may benefit from participating in a support group. There are many online and local support groups for people with all types of chronic illnesses and depression. You may also find journaling helpful for you during your recovery. What is most important is this. Remember you are not alone. Each year millions of people discover they have a chronic illness. You can get the help you need, and you can maintain a high quality of life.
Never feel ashamed to admit you have a problem, and need help. You will find the moment you make yourself available, others flock to you with support, love and admiration.