There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.
Living with depression can keep you feeling stuck in the past, disconnected from the present, and hopeless about the future.
It’s a miserable experience.
Fortunately, there’s a lot we know about effective depression treatment.
And like so many other aspects of emotional wellness, it’s all about finding what works best for you.
From heavy hitters like therapy and medication, to the day-to-day factors you might never have considered, you’ve got a lot to choose from when it comes to addressing your depression.
Read on for an overview of 9 of the leading depression treatment options:
1. Social support
Not strictly a depression “treatment” but rather an important component of emotional wellness, social support consists of having close friends, family, and other trusted people to turn to during stressful times. It’s linked to improved quality of life overall, and is especially critical for those experiencing depression, of which social isolation is a common symptom.
2. Physical activity
There’s no cure-all strategy when it comes to emotional wellness. But, exercise provides one of the best returns on your investment of time and energy, no matter what you’re struggling with. You don’t need to join a bootcamp gym or train for a marathon (unless you want to, of course!) to reap the benefits. Even some gentle stretches and a brief walk around the neighborhood or the mall can support your wellness. And when the weather allows, you can double-dip by taking your movement outside and soaking up the benefits of nature!
3. Sleep hygiene
Ask anyone who’s struggled with insomnia, and they’ll confirm: Just about everything is more difficult when you’re running on too little sleep. And while the best way to address depression-related sleep disturbances is to target the depression itself, most of us can benefit from some improvements to our sleep hygiene. (This is especially true for new mothers experiencing perinatal or postpartum depression. Some disruption to your sleep is to be expected, of course! But, consult your provider immediately if you’re struggling to get the rest you need.)
Appetite changes are a common symptom of depression. You might notice that you’re simply not as hungry these days. Or perhaps you find yourself craving more or different foods than usual. Either way, it’s wise to take a good look at the way you’re nourishing your body, as this can play an important role in your thinking, emotions, sleep, and waking energy levels.
Living with depression can feel like you’re caught in a trap of your own thoughts. Mindfulness is one of the simplest and most effective tools for creating space in your mind, and helping yourself stay grounded in the present. It can also help you navigate the daily stressors of life and engage with others with greater ease. Not sure where to start? Apps like Calm and Headspace offer free guided meditations to get you going.
6. Social rhythms
Depression can disrupt just about every aspect of our daily experience. Our waking and our bedtime. Our thoughts and moods throughout the day. Our concentration, motivation, and enjoyment of the people and activities we encounter. By maintaining your “social rhythms” (i.e., regulating your daily routines and habits), you can create a structure around your time that can help keep you feeling focused, supported, and connected to your life.
Antidepressant medication isn’t for everyone. But, for many of us, it’s an important piece of the puzzle. One that enables us to engage fully in the other parts of our emotional wellness care. Scheduling a medication evaluation with a psychiatrist allows you to ask questions, discuss your history, review your current medication (and self-medication) use, and determine if medication may be right for you. (Curious about medication? Want to learn more? We’d love to hear from you.)
Therapy is at the heart of what we do at Sonder, so it’s no secret we believe in its power to help move people through all kinds of challenges. But don’t take our word for it. The evidence is clear: Individual therapy (particularly cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]) has been shown as effective as, or even more effective than, medication alone in resolving depression. (Curious about therapy? Want to give it a try? We’d love to hear from you.)
9. Brain stimulation
Most people respond well to a combination of the depression treatments above. But, for some, the symptoms of depression persist no matter how they try to resolve them. For certain cases of unremitting depression, brain stimulation may be a helpful treatment option.
Comprised of activating or inhibiting the brain directly with electric or magnetic impulses, brain stimulation therapies (e.g., vagus nerve stimulation [VNS], electroconvulsive therapy [ECT], deep brain stimulation [DBS]) have demonstrated effectiveness for treating depression that hasn’t responded to other forms of treatment. Due to the potential side effects of these approaches, however, some individuals are hesitant to pursue brain stimulation.
Fortunately, research has yielded impressive advancements in non-invasive, yet effective, brain stimulation for the treatment of depression. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at one of the most promising of these alternatives!
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Ready to discuss your depression treatment options with a professional?