Depression Treatment

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Depression, or clinically Major Depressive Disorder (MMD), is among today’s most common mental disorders. Since it borders with such disorders as anxiety and is often caused by stress and grief, increasingly more children and adults can experience it. It is also commonly misunderstood, however, partly because of the word’s everyday meaning and partly because of the disorder’s broad nature.

At Archstone Behavioral Health, we champion some of the most extensive and robust treatment options for depression in Lantana FL. We’ve treated depression manifold and are deeply invested in the scientific literature on depressive disorders. As such, whether you’re looking for information on depression or exploring treatment options, we’re here to help.

What is depression?

What we commonly refer to as depression, everyday language tends to describe persisting or notable sadness. The clinical term differs somewhat, however; clinical depression, or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is what the DSM-V identifies as depression.

Depression is, unfortunately, one of the most common mental disorders today. In the US, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that, in 2020:

  • An estimated 21 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4% of all U.S. adults.
  • The prevalence of major depressive episodes was higher among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).
  • The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (17.0%).

These findings are crucial because major depressive episodes are the primary diagnosis criterion for MDD.

A person sitting by a body of water at dusk.
Depression is among the most common mental disorders today, and is typically portrayed as one of persisting sadness.

Diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder

Before any kind of depression treatment options can be explored, a thorough diagnosis must be conducted. DSM-V outlines the criteria for an MDD diagnosis as follows:

  • Depressed most of the day, nearly every day;
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day;
  • Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., change of more than 5% of body weight in a month); or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day;
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day;
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day;
  • Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day;
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day;
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day;
  • Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

Five or more of these symptoms must be present during the same 2-week period. In addition, such symptoms must:

  • Include at least 1) depressed mood or 2) loss of interest or pleasure,
  • Represent a change from the previous functioning,
  • Not be attributable to other medical conditions,
  • Be observable by others, except for ones that can only be demonstrated by subjective account.

In combination, the above criteria represent a major depressive episode. Depending on their severity, individuals who experience such episodes can see significant social impairment, decreased performance at work, and a steep decline in well-being.

A depressed man lying on a table indoors.
Depression is characterized by persisting symptoms, and can significantly impact everyday life.

Depression specifiers and bereavement

In addition, the DSM-V has added more depression specifiers to best diagnose depressive disorders and inform depression treatment. As VerywellMind reports, these are:

  • Depression with mixed features, which can include manic episodes while the patient does not meet the criteria for Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression with anxious distress, which accounts for the presence of anxiety, tension, or restlessness alongside Major Depressive Disorder

Alongside these specifiers, DSM-IV’s clause on bereavement has been removed. Bereavement, such as grief over the loss of a loved one, is of course still considered a natural process. However, the scientific consensus now holds that grief does not differ from other stressors which can cause depressive episodes.

Mental disorders associated with Major Depressive Disorder

Finally, it is vital to note that MDD is associated with other mental disorders. These may appear similar due to overlapping symptoms or co-occur – the latter case requiring a specialized mental health treatment program to address.

Beyond the broader class of depressive disorders, the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) pinpoints the following associated mental disorders:

It’s these factors in combination that make self-diagnosis generally unreliable. Identifying symptoms early and seeking appropriate help is commendable and to be encouraged, but mental health professionals must always conduct final diagnoses to ensure accuracy and proper treatment.

A black-and-white photo of a depressed man and a confident woman in a suit.
Especially in combination with other mental disorders, depression can often be masked in everyday life or mistaken for other conditions.

Depression treatment; medication and psychotherapy

Thankfully, like many mental disorders, depression is treatable. It is not curable per se, but its symptoms can be treated to ensure proper functioning and fulfilling everyday life.

As the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) finds, a thorough assessment of each individual case must first be conducted. Depression severity, risk of harm to self or others, comorbidities, medical history, and other factors must be assessed. In turn, there are three primary treatment and management options:

  • Pharmacological management, where antidepressants appropriate to the case and patient’s history are used
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a psychiatric treatment reserved for severe major depression or bipolar disorder which has not responded to other treatments
  • Non-pharmacological management, which entails psychotherapeutic interventions instead of antidepressants

Notably, depression management can see combinations of the above depending on the case. For instance, a combination of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy is often the preferred approach for moderate cases of Major Depressive Disorder.

A black-and-white photo of a depressed man by the window on a rainy day.
Depression treatment must always be appropriate for the severity of the disorder being diagnosed and observed.

Behavioral therapies appropriate for depression treatment

While pharmacological treatments can vary significantly, psychotherapeutic approaches are typically more standard. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is key among them, as “one of the most evidence-based psychological interventions for the treatment of several psychiatric disorders such as depression” according to NCBI.

With scientific literature in mind, at Archstone Behavioral Health we offer the following psychotherapy methods fit to treat depression:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – the golden standard of behavioral therapy, and demonstrably effective treatment for depression
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – a type of CBT focused on uprooting negative thoughts, which also commonly treats mental disorders associated with depression
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) – a versatile and established type of psychotherapy fit to treat depression and co-occurring disorders like anxiety, insomnia, and aggression

In cases where PTSD co-occurs with depression, we can also opt for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This type of therapy is fit for treating the effects of traumatic recollections but is specifically developed to treat PTSD. Therefore, its applications in depression treatment should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

A cropped photo of a psychotherapist keeping notes next to a glass table.
Regardless of its form, psychotherapy is one of the best-known and most effective depression treatment tools available to professionals.

Seeking help early

With all of the above in mind, depression can be debilitating. In severe cases, it can include suicidal ideation and result in loss of life. As such, while a mental health professional should conduct your exact diagnosis, you may best be mindful of early symptoms of possible Major Depressive Disorder. Such symptoms can include, according to Mayo Clinic:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness,
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters,
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports,
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much,
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort,
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain,
  • Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness,
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements,
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame,
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things,
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide,
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

Along with the diagnosis criteria outlined at the beginning, this offers a clearer understanding of what depression might look like – whether in yourself or a loved one.

As with all mental disorders, depression must be addressed early. The earlier depression treatment can begin, the less time the disorder has to persist and develop into a more debilitating condition. In turn, the better patients typically respond to treatment, and the lesser the risk of harm becomes.

A man on a mountaintop enjoying the view of the clouds.
Depression may seem like an insurmountable obstacle, but it can be overcome.

Archstone Recovery is here for you

In summary, Major Depressive Disorder is one of the most common mental disorders today. Ample stress triggers can cause it, and its effects can range from inhibiting to debilitating and life-threatening.

Nonetheless, depression is highly treatable. Psychotherapy alone can suffice for milder and responsive moderate cases, and augment pharmacotherapy where necessary. Early identification through warning signs will also often increase the likelihood of successful depression treatment.

If you or your loved ones are likely struggling with depression, remember that you’re not alone. Depression is common and is, thankfully, losing the social stigma it once had. Treatment has become increasingly effective over the years and can even be entirely non-intrusive and non-pharmacological.

If you’re ready for the best journey to recovery from depression Lantana FL has to offer, we are proud to offer our services. Please feel free to contact us today, and let our representatives guide you forward.

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