Depression is a complicated phenomenon. Researchers estimate that Major Depressive Disorder will be the leading cause of illness in developed countries by the year 2030. There are many factors involved in depression, including neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), hormones, gut health, nutrients, and sleep. That is why an integrative approach to depression therapy is best. While there have been many successful treatments for depression, no one treatment is a universal cure-all. Also, not every therapeutic option works the same for each person. To get the most out of depression therapy and help “conquer the beast,” it is important to try many approaches.
See a Counselor or Therapist
Psychotherapy for depression can improve your overall quality of life, as well as your mental health and physical well-being. There are many different therapists and different types of psychotherapy available. Some types of therapy that can be most effective for depression are:
- Interpersonal – structured sessions meant to improve relationship skills
- Cognitive Behavioral – short term treatment focusing on identifying and replacing inaccurate perceptions and reactions
- Social Skills – teaches patients communication skills and how to build a strong social network
- Psychodynamic – helps explore and address past emotional wounds and unresolved conflicts
- Supportive counseling – unstructured listening sessions where therapist provides empathy for whatever issues patient brings up
- Behavioral activation – treatment highlights pleasant interactions and activities; therapist helps patient focus on positive actions and engagements to reduce symptoms of depression
- Problem-solving – specific issues are defined, solutions or strategies to resolve the issues are discussed and assessed, and the therapist helps the patient choose and implement a plan
It is imperative to find a good counselor that works for you, and someone who makes you feel comfortable and safe. There are a few sensible ways to find a trusted therapist: ask your doctor or another trustworthy professional who takes care of you, or ask family or friends for referrals.
Besides professional help, there are many other ways to combat depression. One way is through self-help strategies. Supportive online resources and self-help books may reduce symptoms of emotional distress. Joining a support group (or group therapy) can be an effective treatment choice. Another recent option to treat depression is CBD (cannabidiol) – a naturally occurring chemical compound found in the hemp plant.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
Your brain and your gut are intricately connected. Various large-scale studies have made correlations between food and mood. Eating a diet high in nutrients, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins is associated with a decreased risk of depression. Conversely, eating a diet low in nutrients and high in processed foods, sugar and animal products can increase one’s risk for depression. Of course, good nutrition not only protects your mental health, but can also decrease your risk for age-related cognitive decline and stroke. Start by adding a few fruits and vegetables to your daily diet. It will make a world of difference for both your gut and your brain.
Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are popular because they are enjoyable. But they are also scientifically-backed tactics to combat mental illness. Studies show mindfulness-based techniques are as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy. This is true not only in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression, but in preventing relapse as well. The beautiful part of mindfulness is that it involves “non-judgmental awareness of the present moment experience, including one’s sensations, thoughts, bodily states, consciousness, and the environment, while encouraging openness, curiosity, and acceptance.” Applying principles of acceptance and avoiding judgment of self are wonderful principles. Both can help in recovery from depression.
Become More Active
Physical activity has long been touted as an effective treatment for depression. While getting outside and exercising may be the most difficult thing to do when you’re feeling depressed, it’s one of the most beneficial. Several scientific studies show the benefit of exercise for depression, with an effect not unlike pharmaceutical therapy. Exercise increases self-esteem while decreasing inflammation, balancing neurotransmitters, and promoting new brain cell growth. Exercise is a versatile and inexpensive method to use as part of a depression-fighting toolkit. The additional benefits are an extra bonus.
Taking an integrative approach to mental health conditions can increase your chances for success. If you are receiving or seeking treatment for depression, you can become a more active participant in your own well-being and make treatments work even harder for you. When you make the most of your depression therapy, whether you also use dTMS, medication, or all of the above, you can get back to feeling like yourself again and live your best life.