What Are the Best Treatments for Depression?

February 18, 2014 Lauren Hardy, MA

Just as no two people are exactly the same, depression treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach. What works to treat one person’s depression may not work to treat another’s, which is why anyone struggling with depression should learn as much as possible about depression, treatment options, and care at home for depression. This will allow each person who has depression to be their own best advocate when it comes to managing the disorder. The best treatments for depression include medication management, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Depression is a manageable mental illness when treated effectively. So what are the best treatments for depression? Click to find out.A mental health professional who has experience in treating those with depression is the best first stop after a general physician has ruled out any medical causes for depression (such as hypothyroidism). What is most important is the fit of a therapist who is compassionate and supportive during depression care (How to Find A Therapist Who's Right For You). Talk therapy is very effective for helping depressed people as it allows for the development of insight and helps prevent depression relapse. A therapist may use cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy in a blended approach to treat depression.

Many people struggling with depression believe that antidepressant medication alone is enough to treat this disorder, however long-term studies have illustrated that antidepressants work best when combined with therapies and lifestyle changes. Don’t give up on medication if it doesn’t immediately work; most antidepressants need at least 6 to 8 weeks to begin to show their effectiveness. By the same token, if after this period of time, the depression medication is causing unpleasant side effects, suicidal thoughts, or simply isn’t working to manage the depression, it may be time to change medications.

Lifestyle Changes for Depression Treatment

A combination of medication, talk therapy, and lifestyle changes have been shown to increase the likelihood of effective depression care. These lifestyle changes can be powerful ways to lift mood and treat depression as well as keep depression under control once a person is feeling better.

Regular exercise can help people who are depressed by boosting neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for good feelings such as dopamine and endorphins. Exercise also helps the brain to grow new brain cells and form connects within the brain. While one should aim for between 30 and 60 minutes of exercise each day, even a simple half-hour walk each day can provide major benefits.

Sleep has a strong effect on mood and sleep deprivation worsens the symptoms of depression and increases feelings of moodiness, irritability, fatigue, and sadness. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night; very few people can get by on less sleep.

Eating properly is vital to both physical and mental health. Small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help maintain energy and minimize any mood swings. Proteins, complex carbohydrates make a much better snack than simple sugars, which cause a major crash in mood.

Social support is very important for people who have depression. Through strong ties to others, social isolation is reduced which is an enormous risk factor for depression. Maintain regular contact with loved ones and friends, volunteer around the community, or find a peer support group for other people struggling with depression. (Feeling Depressed? What To Do When You're Feeling Depressed)

Inpatient Treatment for Depression

Sometimes lifestyle changes, and medications are not enough to help alleviate depression. In this case, a doctor may recommend a short stint in an inpatient treatment program that specializes in depression treatment. An inpatient treatment center can help begin the recovery process by removing a person from their environment, away from the stresses of daily life, and providing these people a chance to focus solely upon their recovery. In an inpatient center, medications may be tested and personal safety can be assured in people who require intensive treatment for major depression. It will also allow these individuals to live in a calm, compassionate, warm atmosphere to begin tackling some of the most delicate of their problems. Inpatient treatment centers for depression often use a combination of medication management and individual, group and family therapies to help get to the bottom of the depression and delve deeper into the problems depression has caused.

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Treatment Program: Lauren Hardy, MA, writes on behalf of River Woods Behavioral Health System, an adolescent and adult inpatient treatment center that specializes in depression, addiction and co-occurring disorders.

APA Reference
Hardy, L. (2014, February 18). What Are the Best Treatments for Depression?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Lauren Hardy, MA

August, 16 2014 at 3:35 pm

True sufferer. diagnosed when i was 28. worsened in early 30s still not much better at 44. I have been on meds, whicch were benefitional. due to loss of insurance, i stopped getting. BAD DEAL. but truly the best medicine is talk therapy and support. WITH the meds. The meds is simply just a mechanism, to ward off bad feelings. the true healing is in talk therapy.

Dr Musli Ferati
March, 12 2014 at 1:17 am

Depression as frequent mood disorder,requires comprehensive psychiatric approaching, in order to overcome serious health complication. Your recommendation deserves respect, because its psychiatric treatment implicit complex bio-psycho-social intervention. On the other hand, these therapeutic intervention should be in concordance with many personal and psycho-social features of respective depressed patient. Fundamental prerequisite to this approaching is to prepare patient to accept the necessity for current psychiatric treatment. Moreover, when it is known the fact that many patient and their family doctors ignore the seriousness of this common psychosomatic disease. Untreated depression introduces open door for fatal consequences to global welfare.Besides this frightened repercussion, depressed patient ruin their global functioning with detrimental consequences to their families and social milieu, as well. These and others implication of depression put down the need of inevitable psychiatric treatment of depression. Furthermore, when it is known that depression is curable mood disorder.

March, 1 2014 at 10:41 am

Jodi is so right. We really are "Children of a lesser god". I often wonder why these doctors chose to go into psychiatry. Really. Compassion and empathy? Ha! It's dehumanizing and I have a Ph.D. in clinical psychology so I hate when I get a resident who knows much less than me and treats me poorly, also I've had treatment resistant depression for 30 years. No, I'm not bitter or angry.

February, 25 2014 at 8:42 am

"It will also allow these individuals to live in a calm, compassionate, warm atmosphere to begin tackling some of the most delicate of their problems."
I had to laugh at this statement in this article. In my experience with many hospitalizations a "compssionate warm atmosphere" was NEVER the case. Patients are still treated without dignity or respect and I have always come away traumatized and worse than when I admitted. Don't make it sound like a luxury spa. Overworked, stressed out staff and uncaring doctors who don't provide individualized care is closer to reality.

Laura Gehrke
February, 24 2014 at 1:36 pm

Although I maintain therapy on an outpatient basis, it seems yearly I require a visit to the hospital for med adjustment. So, sometimes both are needed to get stable, and then to remain stable

Deirdre Fearon
February, 19 2014 at 9:04 am

Hi. I have suffered depression for 23 years. I'm 45 now. It happened out of the blue one day. Felt like panic and I didn't know what was wrong with me. Suffered for 5 years before I went on meds.

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