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What is Depression?
Causes of Depression
Symptoms of Depression
Diagnosis of Depression
›› Conventional Treatments
Alternative Treatments
Depression Resources
Medical Info

Main > Specialty Areas > Psychiatry >

Conventional Treatments

According to the National Institute of Mental Health and the American Psychiatric Association, depression can be treated effectively with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy, medication, or a combination of therapy and medication. Treatment may include one or more of the following:

Antidepressant Medications

Most antidepressants work by helping restore brain's natural chemical balance. Typically a round of treatment lasts for 4 to 6 months. Generally, they are surprisingly effective, especially in combination with therapy. There are different kinds of antidepressants.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) act on serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps control mood and other bodily functions, such as eating or sleeping. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include drugs such as fluoxetine (brand name: Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro) citalopram (Celexa), and paroxetine (Paxil).

Tricyclic antidepressants (tricyclics) act on both serotonin and norepinephrine (another neurotransmitter), and also affect other chemicals in the body. They include desipramine (brand name: Norpramin), amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil) and nortriptyline (Aventyl or Pamelor).

These drugs do have some side effects such as dry mouth, nervousness, nausea, insomnia, headache and sexual dysfunction. People taking tricyclics may also experience blurred vision, difficulty urinating or defecating, worsening of glaucoma, impaired thinking and tiredness. Sometimes, a person's blood pressure and heart rate is also affected.


Psychotherapy may help achieve improved mood and a complete remission of symptoms (usually for mild depression); understand which factors in your life may be causing the depression; learn how to manage the symptoms of depression and learn how to change your way of thinking about depression. While, psychotherapy alone may or may not help cure certain depression disorders, a combination treatment of psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs is usually the most effective.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive Therapy is only used to relieve symptoms quickly when depression is severe and endangers the patient's health. ECT is usually used only after medication has failed to relieve the symptoms of depression.

Light Therapy

Light Therapy is used to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression brought on by reduced daylight in wintertime.

Self-Help and Support Groups

Numerous web resources are dedicated to providing depression sufferers with information and support groups that often help ameliorate their condition. For more links, check out the Depression Resources section.

‹‹ Diagnosis of Depression Alternative Treatments ››

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