The Not-So-Great Depression
In fact, talk therapy or psychotherapy has been shown to greatly improve depression symptoms. A Canadian study in the 2004 Archives of General Psychiatry found that patients who recover from depression with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—a type of talk therapy that aims to change one’s negative thought patterns—show an improvement that’s similar to taking an antidepressant.
“Medications can help to accelerate recovery, but talk therapy helps to promote changes in behavior, like getting patients out of bed and doing activities they enjoy,” says Luciani. Also, therapists can teach patients how to use self-talk to diffuse negative thought patterns, like “I’m a loser” or “I’ll never get better.”
In addition to talk therapy, your doctor will discuss antidepressant medication with you. These drugs aim to improve your neurons’ ability to function, thus improving your depression symptoms. Popular antidepressants include Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Prozac. Be warned: Finding the right medication may take time. Every person responds differently to these medications (some don’t work, some bring on nasty side effects), so the first 30 days may be a time of experimentation and patience.
Hilary James* from Seattle, tried three different antidepressant medications before finding the right one for her. “I was prescribed Paxil and Effexor by my doctor, but both medications made me very tired,” she explains. “Finally, after taking Zoloft for a few weeks, I noticed I was feeling better and not experiencing the same fatigue that I did with the other medications.”
There are also a number of holistic options available to treat depression. Kathleen Albertson, an acupuncturist and holistic nutritionist from Irvine, CA, treats depression patients using acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
“If your body is not nourished physically and emotionally, this imbalance can cause many patterns of illness, including brain fog, insomnia, anxiety and depression.” Albertson claims that her techniques help 80% of her depressed patients.
Nutrition and diet can also play an important role in dealing with depression. Recent research at Ohio State University has shown that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids—found in salmon and walnuts—may affect your brain just like antidepressants and may improve your symptoms.