Effective Treatments for Depression

There are many alternative treatments for depression, yet only a few of them are truly effective. Continue reading to discover them!
Effective Treatments for Depression

Last update: 30 October, 2020

Depression is a serious mood disorder characterized by one or several episodes of deep sadness, anguish, unhappiness, and apathy, among other symptoms. Thus, a person must find effective treatments for depression right after they’re diagnosed.

There are various treatments for depression but only some of them are scientifically proven in controlled research studies and in comparison with other types of therapies. As you’re about to see, the most effective treatments are grouped into pharmacological, cognitive, and behavioral treatments.

Effective treatments for depression

In order to treat depression, it’s important to make a good diagnosis and have the help of a clinical psychologist. This is because it’s the only way to ensure the most appropriate method and, thus, provide a reliable prognosis. In addition, it’s a serious disorder so it’s necessary to attend to all of the patient’s needs. Mainly because an ineffective method could worsen some of their symptoms and, thus, recovery would be more difficult.

As we mentioned above, the most effective treatments are pharmacological and psychological. In turn, the latter could be divided into cognitive and behavioral. However, they’re both usually a part of a given procedure.

Each one of these groups has the goal of influencing the various causes of depression. On the one hand, the factors of more biological or endogenous character. On the other one, those related to depressive thoughts and behaviors.

A woman sleeping on the floor.

Pharmacological treatments

This type of treatment is the subject of some controversy regarding its effectiveness. This is due either to its possible addictive nature or its side effects. However, it’s the most studied treatment in a systematic way and, moreover, the most used. For this reason that its role within the treatment of depression is fundamental. In addition, psychological therapies usually complement it.

There are several ways to classify pharmacological treatments for depression. Thus, some drugs are more effective than others in treating each type. Taking into account that there are different types of depression, that is. One of the most used classifications is that of classic or first-generation antidepressants and new or second-generation antidepressants.

Tricyclics (imipramine) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (phenelzine, depressant, tranylcypromine) are among the classic antidepressants. Both act indirectly by preventing the elimination of serotonin and noradrenaline. This is because it increases the availability of these neurotransmitters in the brain.

MAO inhibitors (venlafaxine or moclobemide, among others) and SSRIs (fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, and citalopram) are among the new or second-generation. In fact, these seem to have a lower incidence of side effects. SSRIs work by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin. Also, they’re the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

Note that data suggests that pharmacological treatments are only effective in 30-50% of patients. In this regard, they work better combined with psychological cognitive-behavioral treatment.

Cognitive-behavioral treatments

The most effective psychological treatments for depression are behavioral and cognitive ones, especially when combined. This type of intervention has a demonstrated palliative capacity in depressive symptoms. Moreover, on some occasions, it’s been even more effective than pharmacological treatments on an individual basis.

Similarly, cognitive techniques help patients reorganize their thoughts by identifying irrational ideas and restructuring them. Also, behavioral techniques focus on the patient’s behavior and aim to check the validity of their thoughts. Thus, after refuting them, some tasks provide new reinforcing activities in their environment.

Some of the most used techniques for depression

  • Cognitive restructuring. There are thought patterns in depression and a negative view of oneself and the future is their main characteristic. The aim is to identify and modify these biased ideas until they lead to others that produce more beneficial emotions and behaviors through cognitive restructuring.
  • Behavioral activation. It starts with the idea that the person has stopped receiving reinforcements from their environment. Therefore, this technique consists of motivating and encouraging the types of behavior that lead to an environment in which they’re reinforced. Thus, recover adaptive thoughts, be in a better mood, and have a better quality of life above all.
  • Self-control therapy by Rehm. This is related to the previous one and strives to improve the person’s self-control skills. Thus, they acquire resources to react to failure and are able to redirect their thoughts and behavior towards a positive personal goal.
  • Problem-solving therapy. This technique aims to change a person’s way of facing problems. It’s about them perceiving them as challenges with a possibility of improvement. In addition, it teaches the patient strategies to better solve them and places them in an active position to achieve their goals.
A person in therapy.

The importance of effective treatments against depression

Optimal treatment is essential when you or someone close to you suffers from depression. To do this, you must discover what type of therapy has the best evidence of recovery and effectiveness. However, in addition to making a good choice, it’s important that the patient commits to and adheres to the treatment. This is because there could be a major relapse if they abandon it.

Thus, always consult a professional in psychiatry and psychology and don’t try to self-diagnose via non-technical media. As you can see, effective treatments for depression can help a lot, but seeking in the wrong places can harm you by making you lose valuable time by failing to implement a truly useful intervention.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Bemporad, J. R. (1995). Long-term analytic trea tment of depression. En E. E. Beckham & W. R. Leber, eds., Handbook of depression (pp. 391- 403). Nueva York: Guilford

  • Dougher, M. J. & Hacbert, L. (1994). A behavior-analytic account of depression and a case report using acceptance-based procedures. The Be – havior Analyst, 17: 321-334.

  • Guimón, J. & Padro, D. (1988). Diagnóstico y clasificación de los trastornos afectivos. En J. Guimón, J. C. Mezzich y G. Berrios, eds., Diag – nóstico en psiquiatría (pp.103-110). Barcelona: Salvat

  • McCullogh, J. P. (2000). Treatment for chronic depression. Cognitive be – havioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP). Nueva York: Guilford

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.