Depression can be treated effectively with both therapy and antidepressants, but it is important to rule out organic causes, like viral infection, before commencing treatment. The first treatment step is an evaluation to determine the severity of the depression and to assess contributing factors like genetics and substance abuse. Depending on the outcome of this evaluation, psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two may be prescribed as treatment. Because depression is often a neuro-chemical phenomenon, antidepressants can be extremely helpful to many patients. Antidepressants correct imbalances in the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. Most antidepressants fall into one of three categories: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclics, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Prozac, Paxil, and Wellbutrin are the most commonly prescribed SSRIs, and typically have few side effects. Tricyclics and MAOIs have more side effects than SSRIs, but can be more effective for some patients. However, when someone is taking MAOIs they need to avoid eating cheese, tofu and drinking beer and certain wines. It can take time for antidepressants to become effective-sometimes up to 8 weeks - so it's important to continue taking medications for as long as they are prescribed. Antidepressants aren't habit-forming, but often need to be stopped gradually to give the body time to adjust. It's never a good idea to stop your medication or change the dosage without consulting your doctor. Herbal remedies like St. John's Wort have been used for centuries to treat depression. Research has shown antidepressants to be more effective than St. John's Wort, though it is still considered by some to be effective for treating mild depression. People who do have a mild form of depression may see significant improvement with just psychotherapy. But even when antidepressants are also used, integrating psychotherapy into the treatment can provide lasting benefits. When successful, psychotherapy can actually bring about physical changes in the brain - in other words, effective therapy has a healing power that is emotional, but also actually physical in nature. If you have depression, your doctor will often recommend that you add a regular exercise regiment to your lifestyle as well. Although exercise is not a cure for depression, its psychological and physical benefits can improve your symptoms. Small amounts of activity - just 10 to 15 minutes at a time - have been shown to improve mood. If you need a little push to get started, try scheduling a few sessions with a personal trainer. Depression can be a challenging illness to live with, but there are good treatment options available. If you think that you are suffering from depression, talk to a medical professional. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, check out other videos and sources on this subject.
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Last Updated:December 20, 2012