How To Cope With Someone Who Has Depression – Depression is a serious mental health condition that causes real pain for people who have it and their loved ones.
It is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, affecting at least 21 million adults (about 8.4 percent of the adult population), as well as more than four million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. For most of these men and women, and an even higher percentage of these teenagers, depression results in severe impairment.
How To Cope With Someone Who Has Depression
The good news is that there are many effective treatments for depression – and the earlier you start treatment, the better. Here is an overview of treatment options, bearing in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
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Because the development of depression is multifactorial—often influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors—the best strategy usually involves a combination of approaches.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is designed to help people identify and deal effectively with the psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and situational aspects of their depression.
Each type of psychotherapy has different goals. According to the Mayo Clinic, these goals include helping people in the following ways:
Although it is not clear exactly how they help with depression, antidepressants are drugs that reduce neurotransmitters, chemicals in the brain such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These chemicals play many roles and are thought to affect things like mood and motivation.
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About 13 percent of Americans age 18 and older report taking antidepressants, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, with women about twice as likely as men to take antidepressants (about 17 percent vs. 8 percent). .
Many types of depression medications are available today. Most fall into the following drug classes, grouped according to their effect on brain chemistry:
All of these drugs require a prescription from a doctor and usually take a few weeks to start working. They also have potential side effects, such as weight gain, fatigue and restlessness, which your doctor should discuss with you.
When psychotherapy and medications do not relieve symptoms of depression, or there is a high risk of suicide, doctors may use electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Once called electroshock therapy, ECT has come a long way since it was first used in the 1940s. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, it is safe, although it has the potential for side effects such as memory loss, which can temporary life or not, depending on the person.
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ECT passes an electric current through the brain while the person is under general anesthesia, causing a brief, controlled seizure that affects neurons and brain chemistry. Usually the person wakes up 5 or 10 minutes later and is ready to resume normal activities in about an hour.
That said, not everyone reacts the same way to ECT, notes Elizabeth Wassenaar, MD, regional medical director of the Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center in Denver. She explains that people usually shouldn’t drive on the day they receive treatment, and some people may choose to take a day or two off work.
ECT is initially administered three times a week for an average of three to five weeks, says Dr. Wassenaar. After this initial series, ECT treatments are usually given less frequently—twice a week, once a week, every other week, or even less frequently—she explains, adding that ECT is often covered by insurance.
The side effect of memory impairment has raised questions in the medical community about the benefits versus risks of ECT for treatment-resistant depression. But, says Wassenaar, there are ways to reduce the impact of this side effect.
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“ECT procedures are evolving, and one can work with one’s psychiatrist on ways to minimize side effects [of memory impairment],” she says.
Another option for treatment-resistant depression is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic fields to stimulate neurons, targeting the area of the brain thought to be involved in mood regulation.
Researchers continue to make progress in developing new types of depression treatments. One such advance is treatment with the help of psychedelics. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two first-of-its-kind drugs:
Some mental health providers offer ketamine-assisted psychotherapy—in which ketamine treatment is administered alongside a psychotherapy session—says Sarah Norring, PhD, director and program manager at PsyBio Therapeutics in Coconut Creek, Florida.
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Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may be helpful for treatment-resistant depression and acute or severe suicidal thoughts or behaviors, she adds.
Although not yet approved by the FDA, another psychedelic drug called psilocybin has shown promise for depression and treatment-resistant depression in clinical trials. A small clinical trial published in November 2020 in
Suggested that psilocybin treatment, combined with supportive psychotherapy, could potentially provide rapid and sustained relief of depressive symptoms in adults with major depressive disorder.
Dr Norring cautions that any risks associated with psilocybin – known recreationally as “magic mushrooms” – have not been fully studied. “All potential therapies, approved or of a self-medication nature, should be fully discussed with an appropriately trained and licensed health care professional before being considered for use,” he says. Norring.
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Another innovative treatment for depression, recently approved by the FDA in August 2022, is dextromethorphan-bupropion (Auvelity), an N-methyl D-aspartate receptor antagonist. Unlike other antidepressants, which usually take at least six weeks to work, Auvelity usually works within a week of continued use.
People with severe depression need help from medical professionals—they can’t treat themselves—but some lifestyle changes can complement other treatments or combat mild depression:
Good nutrition, in addition to expert treatment, is often a cornerstone of managing any mental illness. “In a state of malnutrition (poor nutrition), most treatments for depression will have limited efficacy (not work as well),” explains Wassenaar.
In fact, research has shown an increasingly clear role for nutrition in the management of depression. For example, the SMILES trial, published in January 2017 in
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Found that dietary advice provided by a registered dietitian to people with moderate to severe depression “may provide an effective and accessible treatment strategy for the management of this highly prevalent mental disorder.”
Other research has shed light on a possible link between diet, depression and gut health. A review article published in July 2019 in
Showed that the quality of one’s diet affects the gut microbiota (the bacteria and other microorganisms that occur naturally in your gut), which in turn can affect the risk of depression.
Some people with depression turn to St. John’s wort. John’s wort as a home remedy, but doctors are concerned about interactions with other medications. Do not use St. John’s wort while taking antidepressants, as the combination may result in serious side effects.
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Led by the US Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA aims to advance public health efforts to reduce the impact of substance use and mental illness among Americans. If you need help finding treatment for depression or similar mental health issues, contact its national helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
Dedicated to improving the lives of Americans affected by mental illness, NAMI offers several resources on depression, including free discussion groups. Find one in your area.
This social enterprise emphasizes the importance of talking about depression and raising public awareness of the condition. Check out her author blog posts for people living with depression, including how to prepare for your first mental health appointment.
Millions in the United States have depression, but the difficulty of overcoming it may be higher for people of color, research shows.
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Although men, women and teenagers can experience the same symptoms of depression, the disease can also have different symptoms in each of these groups.
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It is important to understand that your loved one cannot help the way they feel and it is not their fault. Treating your loved one with compassion and understanding is incredibly important.
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Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for depression, and your loved one can’t just ‘get it together’. It will take small steps to recover and what helps one person may not necessarily help another.
When you suffer from depression, the thought of getting out of bed and going through the motions of daily life can be exhausting. However, this does not mean that your loved one has no motivation to improve. Let them go at their own pace and comfort level and support them where you can.
Your role here is not to ‘fix’ your loved one’s depression. In most cases, professional treatment from qualified people is needed to overcome depression. The best thing you can do is be as supportive, compassionate and patient as possible. If your loved one is open about it, you can suggest ways that can help them get motivated when they’re depressed, and it might be something you both enjoy.
If you know the signs and symptoms of
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