Depending on how severe your condition is and what your circumstances are, treatments that do not involve medication may be an option to ease depression. It may also be done along with medication.
Psychotherapy for depression consists of various types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or a combination of these therapies. These "talk" therapies can help you gain better insight into your problems by discussing them with a therapist.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy can be effective in treating many types of depression. This type of therapy will help you examine your feelings and thought patterns, learn to interpret them in a more realistic way, and apply various coping techniques to real-life situations.
Interpersonal therapy helps you examine disturbed personal relationships that cause or worsen your depression. This approach helps you learn to shift your attention away from your depression and toward your interactions with other people. The therapy can also help improve your communication skills and self-esteem.
Psychodynamic therapy is another type of therapy used to treat depression. It helps you to focus on resolving your conflicted feelings.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is considered an effective treatment for severe depression. ECT may be used in certain people with severe depression, such as:
Hospitalization is not required for ECT. If you are to receive ECT, you will be given a muscle relaxant and anesthetic and will be carefully monitored throughout the procedure. A small amount of electric current will be sent to your brain. You may receive a number of these treatments over the course of several days, weeks, or months, depending on your condition. In addition, you may need to take a long-term antidepressant drug.
Possible side effects of ECT include:
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a therapy under study for the treatment of depression, as well as other disorders. It involves the use of a large electromagnetic coil placed near the left side of the forehead and painless electrical currents. It is done in a doctor’s office or clinic and lasts about 30-40 minutes. It is reserved for patients who have not been helped by standard treatments.
Phototherapy involves sitting under special fluorescent lights for a prescribed amount of time per day, usually about 30 minutes every morning. It is most effective for seasonal affective disorder, but may be help along with other treatments for nonseasonal depression.
Research suggests that diets high in tryptophan and certain B vitamins may be helpful. There is also mixed evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), available as a dietary supplement, may help some people. Always discuss the use of supplements with your doctor.
Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Depression alternative treatments. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T474293/Depression-alternative-treatments. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Depression (mild to moderate). EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated January 23, 2015. Accessed August 10, 2016.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T361082/Electroconvulsive-therapy-ECT-for-depression. Updated May 11, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Gold C, Solli HP, Krüger V, Lie SA. Dose-response relationship in music therapy for people with serious mental disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2009;29(3):193-207.
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD. Updated September 20, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Maratos AS, Gold C, Wang X, Crawford MJ. Music therapy for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(1):CD004517.
What is music therapy? American Music Therapy Association website. Available at: http://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy. Accessed August 10, 2016.
7/26/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD: Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72(8):1054-1062.
7/28/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD: Jakobsen JC, Hansen JL, Simonsen E, Gluud C. The effect of adding psychodynamic therapy to antidepressants in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses. J Affect Disord. 2012;137(1-3):4-14.
7/28/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD: Shimazu K, Shimodera S, Mino Y, et al. Family psychoeducation for major depression: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2011 ;198(5):385-390.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.