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Suffer from Depression? There's Hope and Help Available to You!

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Health

It may surprising to learn that as many as 20 out of 100 people experience clinical depression every year. These aren't the normal blues most people experience at one time or other in their daily lives, usually related to a specific event or circumstance. The clinically depressed person has symptoms of melancholy on an almost daily basis that occurs independently of extenuating life events.

If a person is believed to be suffering from the symptoms of depression, it's important to contact a physician immediately since only a medical professional can determine the correct diagnosis. If medical evaluation reveals that the patient is, indeed, suffering from clinical depression, it's heartening to know there are effective treatment options available to get the depressed person back on his feet and functioning at peak capacity.

What treatment options are available to the depressed person?

1. Lifestyle modifications

Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can benefit the symptoms of clinical depression. Such lifestyle modifications as altering sleeping habits, diet, and a regular exercise routine can have a beneficial effect on mild cases of depression. These changes should be implemented first before proceeding to more intense therapy options since antidepressant medications can have undesirable side effects.

2. Counseling

The depressed patient may be referred to a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or other specialist to receive counseling sessions. The current trend is for counseling to be short term, primarily using talk therapy to identify sources of conflict in the depressed persons life. Sometimes just the simple act of talking and sharing feelings can have a pronounced positive impact on depressive symptoms.

3. Medications

Antidepressant medications have become the mainstay of therapy for the depressed person since they've been shown to be effective. Unfortunately, medications don't exert their positive effects immediately. Upon starting an antidepressant medication, most patients will report feeling better after about 3 weeks of treatment with increased energy level, appetite, and a more positive outlook on life. Therapy is usually continued for a period of at least 6 months. If the depressive symptoms recur once medication is discontinued, it may be necessary to take the medication for a prolonged period of time.

Which of the above treatments work best? In most cases, a combination of counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes gives the best results. Lifestyle modifications are essential to prevent the recurrence of symptoms once antidepressant medications are discontinued. Regular sleep habits, daily exercise sessions, and dietary modifications should become standard practice for any patient who suffers from depression.

As you can see, depression can be effectively treated and the depressed person can once again experience a rich and full life.