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Major depressive disorder, aka depression, is a serious mental health condition that impacts millions of people around the world. While its severity and duration can vary, depression can significantly impact a person’s life quality, relationships, and overall well-being. 

Thankfully, there are several treatment options available to help manage depression symptoms. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at depression, including what it is and its symptoms. Then, we’ll explore 10 effective treatment options to consider if you or someone you love is living with depression. 

What is Depression? 

Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t just being sad. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by continual feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness that affects around 280 million people around the world. It can affect how you think, act, and feel and make you lose interest in the things you once enjoyed. 

People living with depression may experience a range of symptoms, including: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness 
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in things you once enjoyed 
  • Changes in appetite or weight 
  • Sleep disturbances (like sleeping more than usual or insomnia) 
  • Fatigue or loss of energy 
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness 
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability 
  • And more 

Depression doesn’t look the same for every person. Sometimes, you may not even know a person is living with depression unless they tell you. However, regardless of how it shows up, depression can be a challenge. 

Related: An In-Depth Look at Schizophrenia

10 Treatment Options to Consider 

Just like depression can look different for different people, different treatment options are more effective for some people than others. It’s not uncommon for people to use multiple treatment methods to tackle their depression. Additionally, it usually takes some trial and error to find the best combination of treatment options for each person. 

Here are some of the most common treatment options to consider when living with depression. 

Medication 

Medication is a common option for depression treatment. There are several types of medications on the market, but serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are two of the most common options. These medications work by balancing neurotransmitters in the brain to alleviate symptoms of depression. However, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to find the right medication and dosage for you. 

Talk Therapy 

Talk therapy is a key option for depression treatment. It is also sometimes called psychotherapy or counseling. Some of the most common kinds of talk therapy for depression include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic therapy, Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and Mindfulness-based therapies. In general, talk therapy helps people identify negative thought patterns, develop coping skills, and explore underlying emotions. Working with a trained therapist can be extremely helpful because they can provide a safe and judgment-free zone for you to talk about how you truly feel. 

Lifestyle Changes 

Making positive lifestyle changes can significantly impact depression symptoms for some people. For example, some lifestyle modifications to consider when battling depression include. 

  • Dietary Changes – Focus on consuming a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy proteins. Additionally, try to avoid eating too many processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugar, which can negatively impact your energy levels and mood.  
  • Exercise – Regular physical activity and movement have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and improve mood for some people. Shoot for around half an hour of moderate physical activity each day, like walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, or swimming. Try to find an exercise that you enjoy, as it will make actually doing it much easier. 
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine – Try to limit your alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants or substances, as they can disrupt sleep patterns and make your depression symptoms worse. 
  • Get Enough Sleep – Sleep is super important for overall health and well-being. Try to prioritize getting enough sleep by establishing a good sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene. For example, try not to use your smartphone too close to bedtime or eat a large meal right before bed.   

Related: Depression In Nigeria

Mindfulness and Meditation 

Mindfulness-based practices, like mindfulness meditation and deep breathwork exercises, can help decrease stress, increase self-awareness, and promote emotional balance. Adding mindfulness techniques into your daily life can provide relief from depression symptoms while improving your overall mental health.

If you aren’t sure how to practice mindfulness techniques, consider searching YouTube or Spotify for some guided practices. Additionally, there are several mindfulness and meditation apps available for your smartphone as well. 

Alternative Treatments 

In addition to more conventional treatment options, some people find relief from their depression symptoms through alternative therapies, including: 

  • Acupuncture – Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into certain parts of the body for balance and healing. Some research indicates that acupuncture may be effective for treating symptoms of anxiety and depression – especially when used in combination with more traditional treatment methods. 
  • Energy Healing – Practices like Reiki, qigong, tapping, or healing touch involve the manipulation of energy fields to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While scientific evidence on these treatments is limited, many people report feeling more relaxed and balanced after energy-healing sessions. 
  • Supplements – Certain supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, St. John’s wort, and Ashwagandha have been studied for their potential therapeutic benefit. In addition, many people with vitamin deficiencies may find relief for their symptoms after supplementing those deficiencies with supplements. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor before starting any supplements because they can interact with medication and have negative side effects.  
  • Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy is an alternative practice that uses essential oils obtained from plants to improve mood and promote relaxation. Certain scents like lavender and chamomile are known for their relaxation abilities, whereas citrus scents are known for their ability to energize. Aromatherapy works by putting essential oils in a diffuser, smelling them directly, or diluting them with a carrier oil and wearing them. Like the other alternative treatments in this section, the research on the effectiveness of aromatherapy is limited, but many people report feeling relief. 

Related: Acupuncture: Everything You Need To Know  

Light Therapy 

Light therapy involves exposure to bright light to regulate circadian rhythms and improve mood. Generally, a person sits in front of a large, natural light simulator for a certain amount of time each day. This treatment option is particularly popular for people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, typically in the winter months when the days are shorter. For more information on light therapy, check out this resource from BetterHelp

Spend More Time in Nature 

Spending time outdoors in nature can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. Activities like hiking, gardening, or simply enjoying nature’s beauty can help reduce stress, elevate mood, and provide a sense of peace. Try to spend more time outside, even if it’s just sitting outside for a few minutes a day. Getting natural sunlight and exposure to nature can be one easy way to combat depression. 

Connect With Others 

While you may want to be alone when you’re depressed, maintaining social connections and building supportive relationships is essential for managing depression. Reach out to friends and family or think about joining support groups. It’s important to connect with other people for emotional support, encouragement, and companionship. In the case of support groups, you can join groups in-person or online, whichever is available to you. However, sharing your experience with others who understand can give you validation and reduce feelings of isolation. 

Develop a Routine (and Follow It) 

Establishing a daily routine can provide stability, structure, and a sense of purpose, which can be essential for managing depression symptoms. Try to set specific goals, prioritize tasks, and create a schedule that includes regular self-care activities, commitment, and leisure time. However, be sure your routine isn’t too complicated. Include the bare minimum of what you need to do each day to keep your life moving and take care of your mental health. Save any large projects for when you’re in a better state of mind and avoid obligatory activities that add unnecessary stress.  

Try Some New Hobbies 

Depression often makes people lose interest in their hobbies. If that’s the case for you, consider finding a new hobby to give you something to focus on as you work on feeling better. For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to try painting, cooking, or playing music. Now is an opportunity to give those things a try. Doing something new may not immediately spark joy, but it can be a great way to keep your mind busy and try to reignite your spark. If you’re unsure what hobby to try, consider journaling, which can have several mental health benefits. 

Takeaway 

Living with depression can be a true challenge. However, there are several effective treatment options available to help you navigate it. By exploring various treatment modalities, it’s possible to find relief from depression symptoms and regain control over your life.

Remember that recovery is a journey, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. You aren’t alone in this struggle. Millions of other people face depression, too. Mix and match treatment options, and don’t give up hope while trying to find treatment options that work for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support, as it can make all the difference. 

Disclaimer Alert: The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

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