Categorized | Depression

Depression Treatment – What’s Available?

Before anything, a psychiatrist should first be contacted prior to taking any other steps. This mental health professional helps the patient work through their experiences, identify the type of depression present, and to choose and modify a treatment plan to cater to the needs of the patient.

Here are some treatment options that are currently being used to alleviate depression:

#1: Antidepressants: Given that mental illnesses can likely be the effect of chemical imbalances in the brain, antidepressant medicines are often given to complement therapy and to counter these chemical abnormalities.

There are three known chemicals in the brain (called neurotransmitters) that function to regulate mood. These are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. In people struggling with depression, these neurotransmitters may be abnormally high or abnormally low.

Different types of antidepressants function to normalize these levels in the brain.

-Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most common type of antidepressants used for treatment. You may have heard of some of these, such as Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, or Zoloft. The side effects associated with SSRIs are mild to moderate, depending on the person. Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs, are a newer class of antidepressant that function in a way similar to SSRIs. Examples include Effexor, Cymbalta, and Pristiq.

-Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, were among the first types of medication used to treat depression, and are still being used today. Examples of these include Elavil, Adapin, Sinequan, Tofranil, Pamelor, Vivactil, and Surmontil.

-Monoamin oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, were also among the first types of medication for depression, and are still being used today. These block an enzyme called monoamine oxidase, a chemical associated with a number of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Examples of MAOIs include Nardil, Parnate, and Marplan.

-Buproprion, like Wellbutrin and Aplenzin, functions to alter abnormal levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. These have mild to moderate side effects and are found to be at lower risk of causing sexual side effects.

-Vortiexone, more commonly known as Brintellix, was approved by the FDA in 2013 and is now the newest antidepressant used to regulate serotonin receptors that consequently affect other important neurotransmitter systems. Currently, this type of medication has been found to have minimal side effects and benefits that help address the cognitive symptoms associated with depression.

#2: Antipsychotics Aside from antidepressants, antipsychotics may be described in order to aid treatment. Antipsychotics have been found to be particularly helpful in the patient who struggles with resistant depression. Examples of antipsychotic medications include Abiligy, Seroquel, Symbyax, and Zyprexa.

#3: Psychotherapy & Behavioral Therapy Medication alone won’t work to battle depression, so taking antidepressants usually goes hand in hand with therapy. The purpose of both therapies is to help the individual develop and adapt feasible coping strategies to effectively deal with depression. It also helps the individual get replace negative attitudes and outlooks shaped by depression with positive ways of thinking. All of these serve not only to decrease stress, but also to enhance the efficacy of any medication being taken.

#4: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one option available for the treatment of severe depression. This procedure entails the application of a brief electric current to the brain via electrodes attached to the scalp while the patient is under sedation. Despite its effectiveness, ECT is only used to treat severe depression that has proven unresponsive to other forms of treatment, or when patients struggling with severe depression become threats to themselves or other people.

#5: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Device This is a device used for patients struggling with major depression that is unresponsive to medication. This method is considered the least invasive form of treatment for resistant depression. TMS differs from ECT in that it uses a magnetic field rather than an electric shock, and this magnetic field targets a specific part of the brain. The device is placed on the scalp, where it then sends pulses to stimulate nerve cells that are in charge of regulating moods. This method is considered safer but less effective than ECT.

#6: Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) This method is also used to treat individuals struggling with resistant depression. Unlike ECT and TMS, this is considered an invasive form of treatment. A device the size of the wrist watch is implanted into the patient’s chest, with its wires leading to the left vagus nerve. Electrical impulses are then coursed through the wires to this nerve, which is responsible for the passage of information between the brain and the body.

These are the most common modes of treatment used to alleviate depression. Aside from these formal treatment options, there are also other steps that can be taken in order to get the most out of them.

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