Overview on Depression Treatment
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from the disease, and it is one of the leading causes of disability. Furthermore, depression can be broken down into several clinical subtypes, making it complicated for the average person to understand. Treatment methods and modalities are as varied, different, and complex as the people who suffer from the disorder.
Why would someone seek treatment for the disorder?
It’s important for people to understand that depression is a lifelong disorder. Although depression treatment can significantly reduce and alleviate symptoms, a person who is diagnosed with depression will always need to manage their health and be aware of what situations can trigger their symptoms. In this way, depression is similar to other chronic health conditions such as diabetes, or arthritis. Once patients are diagnosed, they need to work with a team of experienced mental health professionals to understand and avoid or cope with their triggers.
Depression is a disorder that affects all facets of a person’s life. They will experience physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral symptoms that will impair their day-to-day functioning until they get help. It is true that depression symptoms can sometimes dissipate on their own without outside intervention. However, it is risky to ignore depression symptoms and avoid medical treatment for several key reasons.
Untreated depression is incredibly dangerous. Patients can attempt suicide and in tragic cases, succeed or suffer permanent disability. They may also self-harm. Every 40 seconds, a person dies from suicide somewhere in the world. Suicide rates have risen dramatically among young people in recent years, although historically, middle-aged and senior men were at the highest risk of suicide.
Early intervention in depression is vital for preventing future episodes from occurring. Most clinical subtypes of depression are experienced in waves, where a person will be impaired with symptoms for weeks or months before they dissipate. If the initial episode is untreated, any future episodes can be worse, with symptoms increasing in severity and duration. This also increases the risk of suicide and self-harm. Untreated depression episodes can severely impair a person’s ability to work or care for children. It is for the benefit of the patient as well as their loved ones that they get prompt treatment.
What are the most common treatments for depression?
The exact method of treatment will vary based on the patient’s symptoms, their age, and if they have other mental or physical health conditions that can impact their depression treatment. But for most depression patients, the first course of treatment will be a combination of SSRIs or SNRIs and one-on-one talk therapy.
For children and teens with depression, medications are usually the last resort. Children and teens typically benefit from talk therapy with a therapist who is experienced with children and teen mental health conditions and their unique, developmental needs.
While medication and therapy are adequate for the majority of depression cases, in some patients, these treatment methods may not work.
About 30% of depression patients will have what is called treatment-resistant depression. Treatment-resistant depression happens when a patient has tried at least two different antidepressant medications and has not had a reduction in symptoms, or symptoms are still severe enough to reduce their quality of life. In these cases, patients may need to use a deep brain stimulation technique in combination with therapy to alleviate their symptoms.
Also, some patients enter treatment with depression that is so severe that medications are not a safe treatment method. Antidepressant medications like SSRIs and SNRIs take several weeks to take effect. For patients who are severely suicidal or suffering from hallucinations and delusions that happen with psychotic depression, deep brain stimulation techniques can give them fast relief from the more dangerous depression symptoms.
What are deep brain stimulation techniques?
The most well-known deep brain stimulation therapy for depression is electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. Unfortunately, ECT has been plagued with a poor reputation for decades. When the treatment was first introduced in the late 1800s, doctors and medical personnel were not very familiar with how electricity worked, and safety measures were not put into place. Patients were often harmed in the process.
Since then, the technique has been perfected, and it is extremely safe and highly effective at treating a variety of mental health conditions, including depression. Patients are sedated during the treatment. In studies conducted on patients 60 years and older, one round of ECT was enough to give them a complete remission of symptoms.
However, ECT may be contraindicated for patients with other health conditions. For some patients, the side effects of ECT may be unpleasant, and they may want to try a treatment that isn’t as invasive. After all, ECT treatments do require sedation.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques are another alternative. The treatment is non-invasive and uses a powerful, magnetic coil to deliver magnetic pulses to areas of the brain that are thought to play a role in depression symptoms. Patients can have the procedure done in an outpatient setting, and the side effects are minimal. Studies conducted on TMS patients found that up to 60% of TMS patients see a reduction in symptoms. A third of patients will go on to experience a full remission.
What are some examples of poor depression treatment methods?
Depression is not a character flaw or a choice. Depression treatment methods that advocate “toughening up” or only changing a patient’s habits, routines, and attitude without professional therapy or medical treatment are ineffective at best. At worst, they can lead the patient to attempt self-harm or suicide.
Clinical depression is a severe disorder on par with heart disease or arthritis and deserves proper medical treatment and intervention. The experienced clinicians at Pulse TMS have helped hundreds of patients with stubborn depression symptoms find relief with cutting-edge TMS therapies. Please contact us today to learn more about how TMS can help you, or a loved one find relief from the symptoms of depression.