COMMENTARY

A Guide to Treating Depression

Matt A. Goldenberg, DO

Disclosures

December 08, 2014

In This Article

Psychotherapy vs Medication

Because the medications used in the treatment of depression can take up to another 6-8 weeks to have maximal effect, it is important to simultaneously utilize the other treatments options in our arsenal. This is especially true for patients with more severe depression or those who have not responded quickly to medications in the past. That is why I discuss psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and behavioral activation first. These treatment modalities can have significant positive effects on depression immediately and can serve as a bridge until medication can take full effect.

Conversely, some patients need to get started on medication and improve to a point where they can engage in therapy or change their behavior. In addition to medication, a psychiatrist can determine whether other treatments, such as electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, or vagus nerve stimulation, are right for a patient. Every patient is unique, and the treatment plan should be consistently adjusted to his or her changing needs.

Conclusion

The hardest step for the patient is often the first step: making an appointment with their primary care doctor or finding a psychiatrist. But when dealing with depression, it is always better to get help before hitting rock bottom. I hope this information helps you to better evaluate and support your patients in getting the assistance that they need.

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