5 Effective Depression Treatment Options

By: Jayson Tripp, MD


Depression is a condition that affects over 300 million people worldwide. Depression takes many forms, including:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) — characterized by at least five diagnostic symptoms of depression, including an overwhelming feeling of sadness and/or loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) — characterized by a low, dark, or sad mood that persists for most of the day on most days for a period of at least two years. The symptoms are usually not as severe as major depression.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — characterized by the same symptoms of MDD, but patients only experience symptoms during a specific part of the year (usually winter).
  • Adjustment disorder with depressed mood — occurs when depression symptoms are triggered within three months of a stressor, which is typically some sort of life-altering event like a move or a new job. Symptoms usually resolve within six months.
  • Postpartum depression — depression that typically occurs in mothers during pregnancy or up to a year after giving birth.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) — a severe and sometimes debilitating form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Mood shifts during PMDD are much more severe than those that may occur during PMS and are typically characterized by sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, and/or anger.

These and other forms of depression can cause severe symptoms that interfere with daily life, including a person’s ability to work and go to school. Fortunately, many depression treatment options exist. In this blog, we will discuss five treatment options for people who deal with depression on a regular basis.

1. Medication

According to the CDC, about 11% of Americans over age 12 takes antidepressants. For many people, antidepressant medication is life changing. Depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals like serotonin in the brain. Antidepressants help increase the availability of these chemicals to neurons in the brain.

There are many types of antidepressants available, including:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They mainly affect the levels of serotonin in the brain. Common SSRIs include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft.
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) — these antidepressants affect levels of serotonin as well as other neurotransmitters in the brain. Common SNRIs include Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq.
  • Atypical antidepressants — don’t fit into any other classes of antidepressants. Common medications include trazodone and Wellbutrin.

The common side effects of antidepressants are gastrointestinal (GI) issues, changes in weight, dizziness, sexual dysfunction, headaches, insomnia, and others. However, most people find that the benefits of antidepressants far outweigh the possible side effects.

If you’re experiencing any unwanted side effects of your medication, talk to your doctor so they can help you find the right drug to treat your symptoms with as minimal side effects as possible.

2. Therapy

Professional counseling, or therapy, is another common treatment for depression. Therapy is an especially effective treatment for people who may be experiencing depression related to adjustment disorder. A therapist can help you develop coping skills to help you deal more effectively with the situations in your life that may be causing stress. Many different types of therapy exist, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Mindfulness-based therapies
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Emotion-focused therapy (EFT)
  • Marriage and Family therapy

Depending on a patients age, diagnosis, symptoms, and situation, certain types of counseling may be more effective than others. A professional counselor will be able to help you figure out the depression treatment plan for you.

3. TMS

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a depression treatment that was approved by the FDA in 2008. TMS is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the areas in the brain that are affected by depression and essentially reboot them like you would reboot a computer. This treatment improves neuropathway connections in the brain and reduces the symptoms of depression.

TMS also has a high response rate. In a study using BrainsWay’s Deep TMS system, about 64% of patients responded significantly after 20 treatment sessions and 42% achieved remission. After 30 treatment sessions, 75% of patients responded with significant improvement and 51% of patients achieved remission.

4. Ketamine

Ketamine is traditionally used as an anesthetic. However, more and more psychiatrists are using it to treat the symptoms of depression. Studies show that ketamine can reboot the brain and help reduce the symptoms of depression. Ketamine also works quickly. Most patients find relief after their first treatment.

Ketamine is not currently approved by the FDA as a treatment for depression. However, scientists are working hard to develop antidepressants that have a similar effect on the brain that ketamine does. In fact, the FDA recently began its review of a ketamine-related drug developed by Johnson & Johnson called Esketamine.

5. Hormone Treatment

If you have depression that is related to PMDD, then your doctor may prescribe birth control or another type of hormone treatment to help regulate your cycle and reduce the severe symptoms of depression that you feel around that time of the month.

Because depression has so many forms and causes, it’s important to find a doctor to evaluate your symptoms and help you develop a depression treatment plan that fits your symptoms. Our team works with each of our patients to create a completely individualized care plan that fits your needs. Reach out to us to schedule an appointment today.

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.