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Other Treatments for Depression
Depending on how severe your condition is and what your circumstances are, treatments that do not involve medication may be an option to ease depression. It may also be done along with medication.
Psychotherapy for depression consists of various types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy , interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or a combination of these therapies. These "talk" therapies can help you gain better insight into your problems by discussing them with a therapist.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in treating many types of depression. This type of therapy will help you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply various coping techniques to real-life situations.
Interpersonal therapy helps you examine disturbed personal relationships that cause or worsen your depression. This approach helps you learn to shift your attention away from your depression and toward your interactions with other people. The therapy can also help improve your communication skills and self-esteem.
Psychodynamic therapy is another type of therapy used to treat depression. It helps you to focus on resolving your conflicted feelings.
Education for Family Members
Your family members can also play a positive role in your recovery. A therapist can teach your family about depression and help them to adopt new coping strategies.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered an effective treatment for severe depression. ECT may be used in certain people with severe depression, such as:
- People who present an immediate suicidal risk
- Elderly patients with psychosis and depression
- Pregnant women (only those with severe depression)
- People who cannot take or do not respond to antidepressants
Hospitalization is not required for ECT. If you are to receive ECT, you will be given a muscle relaxant and anesthetic and will be carefully monitored throughout the procedure. A small amount of electric current will be sent to your brain. You may receive a number of these treatments over the course of several days, weeks, or months, depending on your condition. In addition, you may need to take a long-term antidepressant drug.
Possible side effects of ECT include:
- Muscle soreness
- Heart disturbances
- Short-term confusion or memory lapses
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a therapy under study for the treatment of depression, as well as other disorders. It involves the use of a large electromagnetic coil placed near the left side of the forehead and painless electrical currents. It is done in a doctor’s office or clinic and lasts about 30-40 minutes. It is reserved for patients who have not been helped by standard treatments.
Phototherapy involves sitting under special fluorescent lights for a prescribed amount of time per day, usually about 30 minutes every morning. It is most effective for seasonal affective disorder, but may be help along with other treatments for nonseasonal depression.
Dietary Changes and Supplements
Research suggests that diets high in tryptophan and certain B vitamins may be helpful. There is also mixed evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), available as a dietary supplement, may help some people. Always discuss the use of supplements with your doctor.
A trained music therapist creates a treatment plan that has music at its center. For example, treatment may involve listening to music, talking about lyrics, singing, or dancing. A number of studies have found that music therapy may be able to improve the symptoms of depression.
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Depression alternative treatments. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Available at: Updated May 19, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Depression (mild to moderate). EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated January 23, 2015. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Electroconvulsive therapy for depression. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Available at: Updated May 11, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Gold C, Solli HP, Krüger V, Lie SA. Dose-response relationship in music therapy for people with serious mental disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2009;29(3):193-207.
Major depressive disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Available at: Updated March 31, 2016. Accessed August 10, 2016.
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What is music therapy? American Music Therapy Association website. Available at: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy. Accessed August 10, 2016.
7/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72(8):1054-1062.
7/28/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Jakobsen JC, Hansen JL, Simonsen E, Gluud C. The effect of adding psychodynamic therapy to antidepressants in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses. J Affect Disord. 2012;137(1-3):4-14.
7/28/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Shimazu K, Shimodera S, Mino Y, et al. Family psychoeducation for major depression: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 ;198(5):385-390.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2016
- Update Date: 09/17/2014