Feeling sad or blue once in a while is just a part of life, but when you feel this way for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from major depressive disorder.
This common mental health condition affects people of all ages, and it can be hard to overcome if you aren’t sure where to turn. Major depressive disorder is treatable, but the combination of therapies that works best for one person may not be best for someone else.
Here’s what you need to know about major depressive disorder treatments.
What is major depressive disorder?
If you’ve been experiencing significant depression that lasts for an extended period of time, you may have major depressive disorder (MDD).
Major depressive disorder is estimated to affect about seven percent of the adult population in the United States during any given year, making it one of the most common mental health conditions.
People with major depressive disorder experience both physical and emotional symptoms that impact how they think, feel, and behave, and can lead to difficulties carrying out daily activities.
Although everyone experiences major depressive disorder differently, common symptoms of the condition include:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, tearfulness, or hopelessness
- Unexplained physical ailments, such as headaches or back pain
- Outbursts of anger, irritation, or frustration, including over things that are seemingly inconsequential
- Suicidal ideations or behaviors
- Loss of interest or joy in activities that you once enjoyed doing
- Difficulty thinking, making decisions, focusing, or remembering things
- Disturbed sleep
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt and a fixation on past failures
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Slower thinking, speaking, and movement
- Change in appetite that leads to changes in weight
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness.
In order to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, patients must exhibit at least five of the above symptoms for a period of two or more weeks, with at least one of the symptoms being either depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed.
Major depressive disorder won’t just go away overnight with treatment, but the right treatment or combination of treatments can be a huge help towards feeling more like yourself again.
What treatments are available for major depressive disorder?
There are three primary types of treatments for major depressive disorder: medication, talk therapy, and lifestyle changes. People with major depressive disorder often use a combination of treatments in order to successfully treat their symptoms.
There are four main classifications of antidepressants, but the two most popular and well known are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These medications work by inhibiting the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. SSRIs work on serotonin, while SNRIs work on serotonin and norepinephrine, resulting in higher levels of the neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine are responsible for important brain functions, such as improving mood and well-being. Common types of SSRIs include Lexapro and Prozac, while popular SNRIs include Cymbalta and Effexor. Other categories of antidepressants include tricyclic antidepressants and other atypical antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin.
Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, can be very helpful for people with major depressive disorder. During talk therapy, patients speak one on one with a therapist who can help them work through feelings associated with their depression.
People may use talk therapy in order to learn healthy coping mechanisms, work through past traumas, reframe negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, and improve communication skills, among other applications. Talk therapy can take place in either a private setting or a group setting, depending on what you and your therapist believe will be most comfortable and effective.
Although lifestyle changes won’t completely remove depression from your life, they can help support a healthy mood and may improve the effectiveness of other treatments.
People struggling with major depressive disorder should incorporate the following lifestyle changes into their treatment plan:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources in order to minimize the risk of experiencing nutritional deficiencies that could worsen MDD
- Avoid alcohol, a central nervous system depressant that can exacerbate symptoms
- Exercise regularly, outdoors if possible, in order to support energy levels and overall mood
- Get plenty of rest, at least seven to nine hours per night.
What You Need to Know About Major Depressive Disorder Treatments
The most important thing to know about major depressive disorder treatments is that every person is different and will require a different combination of treatments in order to experience relief from their symptoms.
The first step in finding relief from major depressive disorder is to connect with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your condition and make recommendations about medications and treatments that might be helpful.
YANA is an online mental health service that connects patients to healthcare professionals and provides affordable, quality mental healthcare from the comfort of your home. Getting started with YANA takes just five minutes, and you’ll be matched with a doctor who can help you get the treatment you need quickly and discreetly.
Finding mental healthcare that you can actually afford can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re suffering from major depressive disorder, but YANA makes it easy and convenient to get the care you need.
If you’re not quite ready to get started and want a little more information on what you may be going through, we encourage you to click through the YANA blog for helpful mental health resources.