|Depression is also a major cause of disability worldwide. / Photo by Evgeniy Anikeev via 123RF|
Recent research has discovered that one in six people in England reported experiencing anxiety or depression in any given week. Depression is also a major cause of disability worldwide. It is a serious mental illness because when left untreated, it can become more severe, leading to an untimely death or suicide. The World Health Organization estimated that almost 800,000 people die from suicide every year or 1.4% of total global deaths in 2017. In some countries, the share is as high as 5% of their total recorded deaths, as reported by Our World in Data, a scientific online publication that focuses on large global problems such as poverty, disease, hunger, climate change, war, existential risks, and inequality.
The exact cause of depression is unknown, but researchers claim that it can be a combination of different factors such as the person’s genetic makeup, a hormonal imbalance in the brain, adverse experiences, and other external and environmental causes. Some people who have gone through adverse experiences in their lives suffer from low self-esteem and other vulnerabilities that can make them more susceptible to depression. For instance, difficult life circumstances, financial problems, loneliness, stress, and poor physical health can all contribute to developing depression.
Fortunately, depression and even long-term severe depression can be treated. Over recent years, improving access to psychological therapy programs has become in huge demand. It is important for researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals to develop new ways of helping people manage and overcome people’s mental health problems in order to prevent reoccurring episodes.
Treatment for Depression
A major depressive disorder is often a chronic and recurrent illness and it has been reported that at least 305 of patients with depression will have a recurrent episode, according to the British Columbia Medical Journal. Usually, depression can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Antidepressants are some of the best treatments available for depression. They do not necessarily cure the disease, but they can help ease the symptoms of the disorder and allow the person to live a better life. It is important to continue taking antidepressants even after the patient is relieved of their symptoms in order to reduce the risk of a relapse. Unfortunately, finding the right kind of medication and the right dose is not always simple. People have different reactions to these kinds of medication and it may be a case of trial and error. Also, some antidepressants usually begin to show significant effects within a few weeks to several months before the patient feels the full effect of the drug. Over time, the doctor may increase or decrease the dosage depending on how the patient is doing.
Meanwhile, psychotherapy is often referred to as “talk therapy” that involves a psychotherapist helping the patient recover from mental illness, resolve personal issues, and create new desires in them to change their lives. It is an effective way to treat depression because it can help delve into the possible underlying reasons for the depression and it also allows the person to learn new coping mechanisms.
A New Companion to Depression Treatments
Michael Lucock, a professor of clinical psychology from the University of Huddersfield, and his team have developed the Self-Management After Therapy Intervention or SMArT. This online support application is designed to help people to stay well after they have recovered from an episode of depression. The researchers think that many people continue to remain vulnerable to depression even after getting treatment, hence they have developed relapse-prevention approaches such as the SMArT.
Proper recovery is seen as a process that should continue even after the end of therapy. This approach can help prevent people from feeling that they are back to square one if they have experienced a relapse—this state of mind can increase the likelihood of severe relapse and more severe depression.
According to The Conversation, an academic and medical news website, this approach to depression treatment management was first developed by psychologist Peter Gollwitzer in the 1990s. Follow-up treatments after therapy have been found to support lasting changes in behavior through what are called implementation intentions. This is designed to help people turn an intention to act into habitual behavior, because when someone is in the mood and highly motivated to act then they are more likely to succeed in it. Implementation intention works by linking a specific situation to a specific response that is appropriate to the situation. Hence, when the situation comes up, the learned response is brought to mind and is more likely to be acted out.
In the new SMArT intervention, people are encouraged to identify up to five of these implementation intentions. It is important that they are realistic and achievable because they will have a tremendous impact on a person’s well-being and overall physical and mental health. The SMArT intervention is supported in mental health services by psychological well-being practitioners and patients who are encouraged to share their intentions with friends and family. This new application is just one of a number of ways of helping people recover from depression and to stay well until they are able to carry out their daily activities. It provides a bridge between the end of therapy and a life without therapy and helps people see the importance of setting plans and having a good routine in their lives.
Other Things That Can Help With Depression Treatment
According to Everyday Health, a website for medical and nutritional news, other than medication and psychotherapy, people with depression can also use these steps in order to have a holistic body and mind treatment:
Finding the right support – dealing and coping with depression is easier when it is not done alone. It is advisable to spend time with people that the patient feels comfortable with or they can also join a support group. Also, many patients get great support from spiritual practices or religious affiliations. It is important to connect with people who will understand, and people with depression should not isolate themselves because it can only worsen the symptoms.
Exercise – many studies have shown that regular exercise or any kind of physical activity is a great way to stay healthy and combat depression. Building muscle through exercise creates changes that can help the body get rid of substances that build up from stress that can lead to depression.
Relaxation – it is important to find time to relax and also mediate. People with depression can use relaxation strategies regularly, or they can just make time to do things they love to do such as watching a movie or playing a musical instrument.