Opinions vary on how effective antidepressants are in relieving the symptoms of depression. Some people doubt they help, while others consider them to be essential. But as is true for many other treatments, these medications may help in some situations, and not in others. They are effective for moderate, severe and chronic depression, but probably not for mild cases. They can also have side effects. It is important to discuss the pros and cons of antidepressants with your doctor.
Sticking to your treatment plan is one of the most important things you can do. It’s easy to get discouraged in the first few weeks of treatment. You may not want to continue. All types of treatment can take a few months before you notice a difference. It’s also easy to feel like you’re doing much better and stop treatment all together. Never stop treatment without consulting your doctor first.
Just as there are many different experiences of anxiety and depression, there are a variety of options for treatments and coping techniques to help manage symptoms. The recommendations in this section take an integrative mental health approach, which incorporates health-promoting lifestyle changes; evidence-based holistic therapies and healing practices; and mainstream interventions, including psychosocial therapies and the judicious use of prescription medication. We cover each of these areas in detail--click the links or see the menu on the left for more information.
Very often, a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors is involved in the onset of a depressive disorder. Stressors that contribute to the development of depression sometimes affect some groups more than others. For example, minority groups who more often feel impacted by discrimination are disproportionately represented. Socioeconomically disadvantaged groups have higher rates of depression compared to their advantaged counterparts. Immigrants to the United States may be more vulnerable to developing depression, particularly when isolated by language.
When you’re depressed, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
For treatment with antidepressants to work, a careful diagnosis has to be made first. Experts believe that some people are prescribed antidepressants unnecessarily. The fact that significantly more people take antidepressants nowadays suggests that. These medications are sometimes already prescribed for milder cases, even though there is doubt about how well they work in mild depression.
The birth of a baby can trigger mood swings or crying spells in the following days or weeks, the so-called baby blues. When the reaction is more severe and prolonged, it is considered postpartum depression, a condition requiring treatment because it can interfere with the ability to care for the newborn. Depression can also occur seasonally, primarily in the winter months when sunlight is in short supply. Known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, it is often ameliorated by daily exposure to specific types of artificial light.
SSRIs relieve symptoms by blocking the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin by certain nerve cells in the brain. This leaves more serotonin available, which improves mood. SSRIs (citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and sertraline) generally produced fewer side effects when compared with tricyclic antidepressants. However, common side effects include insomnia or sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. They are considered an effective treatment for all anxiety disorders, although the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, typically requires higher doses.
Phobias are extreme and irrational fears about a particular thing. The can be so great that the person goes to great lengths to avoid it, even if it’s harmless. For example social phobia is fear of being judged or embarrassed in public, even in everyday situations like when eating, speaking at work or making small talk. Another type is agoraphobia, often thought to be a fear of open spaces. It is also a fear of being closed in, or away from a safe place or person who makes you feel safe. It can be extremely disabling and frightening, and can leave people unable to leave their home.
Women—Depression is diagnosed twice as much in women as it is in men. Some reasons for this difference include life-cycle changes, hormonal changes, higher rates of childhood abuse or relationship violence, and social pressures. Women are usually more comfortable seeking help for their problems than men which likely means that depression in men may be highly under-reported. Men generally feel emotionally numb or angry when they are depressed whereas women usually feel more emotional.
Venlafaxine and its active metabolite inhibit neuronal serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake. They are weak inhibitors of dopamine reuptake. In addition, it causes beta-receptor down-regulation. Venlafaxine is sometimes prescribed for non–FDA-approved indications, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, hot flashes, neuropathic pain, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) were one of the first approved antidepressants. Although they are effective, they have been replaced by newer antidepressants that generally cause fewer side effects. Like SNRIs, TCAs work by blocking the reabsorption of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Additionally, they block muscarinic M1, histamine H1, and alpha-adrenergic receptors.
There is no single known cause of depression. Rather, it likely results from a combination of genetic, biologic, environmental, and psychological factors. Major negative experiences—trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation that overwhelms the ability to cope—may trigger a depressive episode. Subsequent depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger. Depression is not an inherent consequence of negative life events; research increasingly suggests that it is only when such events set in motion excessive rumination and negative thought patterns, especially about oneself, that mood enters a downward spiral.
Research utilizing brain-imaging technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), shows that the brains of people who have depression look different than those of people without depression. The parts of the brain responsible for regulating mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behavior appear to function abnormally. It is not clear which changes seen in the brain may be the cause of depression and which ones the effect.
Focus on behaviors. If the person is reluctant to seek help, then don’t try to convince the person that a mood disorder is causing the problems. Instead, talk about their behaviors and the ways in which treatment can help. For example, after you have listened and sympathized with the person’s feelings, try to agree on wellness goals (e.g., consistent sleep and feeling less irritable). Then, try to assign some action steps that you can agree on to reach these goals (e.g., after two weeks, if the person does not improve, you will set up a medical evaluation).
The presence of maternal-fetal stress is another risk factor for depression. It seems that maternal stress during pregnancy can increase the chance that the child will be prone to depression as an adult, particularly if there is a genetic vulnerability. Researchers believe that the mother's circulating stress hormones can influence the development of the fetus' brain during pregnancy. This altered fetal brain development occurs in ways that predispose the child to the risk of depression as an adult. Further research is still necessary to clarify how this happens. Again, this situation shows the complex interaction between genetic vulnerability and environmental stress, in this case, the stress of the mother on the fetus.
Many forms of psychotherapy are effective at helping depressed individuals, including some short-term (10-20 weeks) therapies. Talking therapies (psychotherapies) help patients gain insight into their problems and resolve them through verbal give-and-take with the therapist. Behavioral therapists help patients learn how to obtain more satisfaction and rewards through their own actions. These therapists conduct behavior therapy to help patients to unlearn the behavioral patterns that may contribute to their depression.
Another brain stimulation therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves a physician passing an electrical current through an insulated coil that is placed on the surface of the depression sufferer's scalp. That induces a brief magnetic field that can change the electrical flow of the brain that is effective in easing symptoms of depression or anxiety. TMS does not require anesthesia; doctors perform TMS for a few minutes per session, five times per week over the course of four to six weeks. Side effects are usually mild and fade quickly, including scalp discomfort or headaches. It is unusual for side effects to be severe enough to cause the recipient to stop treatment prematurely. Serious side effects are rare, including worsened depression, suicidal thoughts, or actions.
For example, abruptly stopping an SSRI such as paroxetine can cause dizziness, nausea, flu-like symptoms, body aches, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and vivid dreams. These symptoms typically occur within days of abrupt cessation, and can last one to two weeks (up to 21 days). Among the SSRIs, paroxetine and fluvoxamine cause more pronounced discontinuation symptoms than fluoxetine, sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram, vortioxetine, and vilazodone. Some patients experience discontinuation symptoms despite gradual tapering of the SSRI. Abrupt cessation of venlafaxine, duloxetine, desvenlafaxine, or levomilnacipran can cause discontinuation symptoms similar to those of SSRIs.
Maybe. Some medicines, such as some types of antidepressants, may make it more difficult for you to get pregnant, but more research is needed.15 Talk to your doctor about other treatments for depression that don’t involve medicine if you are trying to get pregnant. For example, a type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps women with depression.16 This type of therapy has little to no risk for women trying to get pregnant. During CBT, you work with a mental health professional to explore why you are depressed and train yourself to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Certain mental health care professionals specialize in depression related to infertility.
From 1991-2006, the suicide rate was consistently higher among males. Suicide rates declined among both sexes from 1991-2000; the rate among males decreased from 24.64 to 20.67 suicides per 100,000 and 5.48 to 4.62 suicides per 100,000 among females. From 2000-2006, however, the suicide rates gradually increased among females. Note: All rates are age-adjusted to the standard 2000 population. Rates based on less than 20 deaths are statistically unreliable. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National suicide statistics at a glance: Trends in suicide rates among persons ages 10 years and older, by sex, United States, 1991-2006. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/statistics/trends01.html. Accessed: May 5, 2010.
If you tend to worry a lot, even when there’s no reason, you may have anxiety. It may be something you are so used to that you may think it’s just “how you are.” Common worries include health, money, family, or work. While everyone worries about these things once in a while, if you always expect the worst, it can get in the way of living a normal life. Though researchers are still investigating the causes of anxiety, they have identified the areas of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety and are using proven studies to increase knowledge in this field in an effort to create improved treatments for anxiety and related disorders.
Suicidal behavior is defined as a preoccupation or act that is focused on causing one’s own death voluntarily. Suicidal ideation refers to thoughts of suicide or wanting to take one’s own life. Suicidal behavior refers to actions taken by one who is considering or preparing to cause his or her own death. Suicide attempt usually refers to an act focused on causing one’s own death that is unsuccessful in causing death. Suicide refers to having intentionally caused one’s own death. Talking about suicide is the best way to prevent it. Although it is not possible to predict suicide with any certainty, our best tool is recognition of the signs that many people exhibit when contemplating suicide. These three behaviors should prompt you to seek immediate help for you or a loved one: talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself; looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or obtaining a gun; talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. See the Resources section below for actions to take if you or someone you know needs help.
The doctor usually asks about alcohol and drug use and whether the patient has had thoughts about death or suicide. Further, the history often includes questions about whether other family members have had a depressive illness, and if treated, what treatments they received and which were effective. Professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of exploring potential cultural differences in how people with depression experience, understand, and express depression in order to appropriately assess and treat this condition.
Mindfulness-based therapy, self-practiced mindfulness, and meditation can reduce symptoms of depression and be effective coping tools. By living in the moment and getting in touch with your external surroundings, you can temporarily detach from the internal strife of your depression. You can also do this as part of yoga, another technique therapists frequently recommend.
Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.
Parents may need to provide more comfort and support than usual for their children. It is not unusual for a child to regress to an earlier stage of development following a traumatic event. Children may find it hard to separate from parents, become clingy or emotionally needy during a hospital stay. Children usually show signs of greater independence by the time of discharge. Please talk to your physician if these problems do not improve.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were among the earliest treatments for depression. The MAOIs block an enzyme, monoamine oxidase, that then causes an increase in brain chemicals related to mood, such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Examples are phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate) , isocarboxazid (Marplan), and transdermal selegiline (the EMSAM skin patch). Although MAOIs work well, they're not prescribed very often because of the risk of serious interactions with some other medications and certain foods. Foods that can negatively react with the MAOIs include aged cheese and aged meats.
Negative thinking. People with depression get stuck in negative thinking. This can make people focus on problems and faults. It can make things seem bleaker than they really are. Negative thinking can make a person believe things will never get better, that problems are too big to solve, that nothing can fix the situation, or that nothing matters.
Some of these side effects are believed to be a direct consequence of the medication's effect on the brain and are relatively similar among various drugs of the same group. Patients who are taking antidepressants sometimes have a dry mouth, headaches, feel faint, anxious, and have a decreased sex drive. These kinds of symptoms are often perceived to be a side effect of the medications. But some of them may be caused by the depression itself.
Depression can have a significant impact on the structure and function of many parts of the brain. This can result in many negative consequences. For example, people with severe depression are at higher risk of suffering from anxiety, chronic depression, other emotional issues, or having more medical problems or chronic pain. The trouble thinking (cognitive problems) that depression sufferers may experience can persist even after the illness resolves. People with a chronic illness, such as diabetes and heart disease, who also have depression tend to have worse outcome of their medical illness.
The SSRIs are not thought to be as worrisome in patients with cardiac disease, as they do not appear to exert any effect on blood pressure, heart rate, cardiac conduction, or cardiac rhythm; however, dose-dependent QT prolongation has been reported with citalopram. Because of the risk for QT prolongation, citalopram is contraindicated in individuals with congenital long QT syndrome. [103, 104]
Antidepressant medications are not habit-forming, so there need not be concern about that. However, as is the case with any type of medication prescribed for more than a few days, physicians must carefully monitor antidepressant use to ensure that the patient is getting the correct dosage. The doctor will want to check the dosage and its effectiveness regularly.
A. Krill oil is extracted from the bodies of Antarctic krill — tiny shrimp-like shellfish — and can be taken in capsules. Like fatty fish and fish oil supplements, krill oil capsules contain the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Consuming these fatty acids (and alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is derived from plants and converted in the body to DHA and EPA) is associated with a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.
The following information is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis of major depression and cannot take the place of seeing a mental health professional. If you think you are depressed‚ talk with your doctor or a mental health professional immediately. This is especially important if your symptoms are getting worse or affecting your daily activities.
If your symptoms are mild, tending to ebb and flow between present and absent, or if you have had formal treatment previously and are concerned about relapse, self-help interventions can be a reasonable place to start. These approaches typically involve little to no guidance by a professional. They can include the use of self-help books, electronic applications that adapt evidence-based psychotherapies, or Smartphone programs that offer an easy way to practice skills that target a highly relevant symptom (such as mindfulness meditation for anger or anxiety).
^ Jump up to: a b Hoprekstad ØL, Hetland J, Bakker AB, Olsen OK, Espevik R, Wessel M, Einarsen SV (2019-03-04). "How long does it last? Prior victimization from workplace bullying moderates the relationship between daily exposure to negative acts and subsequent depressed mood". European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 28 (2): 164–178. doi:10.1080/1359432X.2018.1564279.
When in the depressed cycle, the person can experience any or all of the symptoms of a depressive condition. When in the manic cycle, any or all of the symptoms listed later in this article under mania may be experienced. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, indiscriminate or otherwise unsafe sexual practices or unwise business or financial decisions may be made when an individual is in a manic phase.
Depression and anxiety treatment begins first with recognizing if you have symptoms. Both often appear as physical symptoms, some of which are similar to those seen in migraine. For example, problems with sleep and appetite changes, being easily upset, trouble concentrating, and low energy are all symptoms of migraine, depression, and anxiety. As a result, it is better to pay attention to thoughts and feelings. Depression usually involves strong feelings of sadness or hopelessness that last two weeks or more. Some migraine patients who are depressed do not feel sad or down, but are simply not as interested in activities that they normally enjoy. Others include feeling worthless, guilty, or thoughts of suicide.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety often co-occur in certain disorders. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression often accompanies panic disorder and other anxiety disorders. While depression and anxiety have distinct clinical features, there is some overlap of symptoms. For example, in both depression and anxiety, irritability, decreased concentration and impaired sleep are common.
Remember, antidepressants aren’t a cure. Medication may treat some symptoms of depression, but can’t change the underlying issues and situations in your life that are making you depressed. That’s where exercise, therapy, mindfulness meditation, social support and other lifestyle changes come in. These non-drug treatments can produce lasting changes and long-term relief.
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions, including depression. During clinical trials, some participants receive treatments under study that might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. Other participants (in the “control group”) receive a standard treatment, such as a medication already on the market, an inactive placebo medication, or no treatment. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individual participants may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.