Living with depression can be incredibly difficult. Not only do people with this disorder struggle with mental health symptoms, but depression can also interfere with responsibilities at work, home, or school. With depression being such a common diagnosis, it causes many people to wonder whether science has developed a cure for depression and how effective traditional depression treatments are in the long term.
Why Does Depression Happen?
The first step in answering this question is understanding the reasons depression happens. While there is no singular cause of depression, a number of different factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing depression.
The causes of depression are both internal and external. Scientists have discovered that certain genetic factors can predispose people to depression, as can having a family history of mood disorders.
But depression can also arise as the result of outside circumstances, including:
- Developing a serious medical illness
- Loss of a loved one
- Major negative life changes
- The experience of trauma
- Chronic stress
Any of these events can lead to the chronic pattern of low mood, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disruptions that make up the characteristic symptoms of a mood disorder.
How Do I Deal With Depression?
Learning to deal with depression is a uniquely personal process. No two people are the same, and the causes, symptoms, and recovery process are highly dependent on your unique outlook and perspective.
For most people, however, the best path to overcoming the debilitating symptoms of depression is through targeted depression treatment options. Researchers and clinicians have studied different depression treatments for decades, and several effective treatment options can help the vast majority of people start to feel better.
Additionally, there are several lifestyle changes that can be incredibly beneficial for people living with depressive disorders. Activities such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep hygiene, supplementation, and socialisation have all been shown to significantly reduce common depression symptoms.
The problem with these lifestyle approaches is that depression symptoms can often interfere with a person’s ability to start the process of change, maintain their motivation, or even have enough energy to take up new habits or activities.
Typically, the best path to overcoming depression is a combination of depression treatment alongside lifestyle changes. By pairing depression therapy with healthy habits, each approach can create a positive feedback loop with one another.
Therapy provides motivation for a lifestyle change, which provides symptom relief. That relief helps you excel in therapy, which helps galvanise even greater lifestyle changes.
Can Depression Be Cured?
There is no “cure” for depression in the sense that there is a single strategy that works for everyone. However, nearly everyone can see a reduction in depression symptoms through targeted interventions, and many will achieve full remission with appropriate care.
When a client achieves remission, it means they no longer meet the criteria for a depressive disorder, which many people would consider that their struggle with depression is entirely resolved. Remission is the primary goal of any mental health treatment program, though it is not the only goal.
What is possible for everyone is achieving recovery. Recovery is a personal definition. It may mean a reduction in symptoms, an improvement in functioning, or simply discovering effective methods to manage the symptoms of depression when they occur.
Traditional depression treatment methods have helped countless people achieve recovery, and new and innovative treatment options can even help people who haven’t found success with traditional methods alone.
What Are the Traditional Depression Treatment Options?
Traditional depression treatment falls into two main categories:
- Talk therapy approaches
- Medication management
Both of these treatment options are considered front-line treatments for depression and can be used alone or in combination with one another. In terms of depression therapy, there are several different therapeutic modalities that can help people achieve recovery from depressive disorders, including:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Behavioural activation
- Couples therapy
Each of these styles of depression therapy focuses on different aspects of depression and uses a unique set of techniques to help people overcome them.
Medication management is the other most common approach and is typically done under the care of a psychiatrist. Medication management uses targeted medications designed to treat the symptoms of depression. Your psychiatrist will help you determine which medication is right for you.
Effective medication management typically requires meeting with a psychiatrist for at least several weeks so that they can track your progress and make changes to your treatment plan as needed. They may help you try different medications to see what works best, adjust your dosage, or provide tools to help manage unwanted side effects.
How Do Traditional Treatments Work?
Therapy and medications both take unique approaches to helping people overcome the challenges of living with a diagnosis of depression. For therapy, the key element is helping people change the way they think, feel, and behave — usually through identifying problematic thoughts, behaviours, and patterns that lead to depressive thoughts or feelings.
Once these are identified, your therapist will help you build strategies to break these patterns, learn new ways of thinking, and take actions that can reduce the effect that depression has on your life.
Of course, making these changes is never easy, and it can take weeks or months before you start noticing the effects of talk therapy. But in time, the benefits you gain from therapy can start to build upon themselves, make the path to recovery easier to follow, and change your life for years to come.
Pharmacotherapy takes an entirely different approach by utilising medications to help produce changes in the brain that can lead to a reduction in symptoms. Antidepressant medications work by targeting neurotransmitters in the brain that have been associated with your mood. They can often produce substantial changes in symptoms in just a few weeks.
Among other effects, antidepressants can help reduce the experience of chronic low mood, help boost energy levels, and encourage healthy sleep patterns. With several different antidepressant medication options available, many people will find substantial relief from their symptoms once the right medication is found.
What Is Their Success Rate?
The best success rates for traditional treatment options are through combined treatment — when both therapy and medication are used simultaneously to treat depression. In a meta-analysis published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, combined treatment showed significant benefit for 76.3% of patients receiving care.
Importantly, not all of this group achieved total remission, but they achieved clinically significant reductions in their depression symptoms.
Novel Depression Treatment Options
As effective as traditional treatment options may be, they are not effective for everybody. The results many people find from these treatments aren’t always as beneficial as they would have hoped.
However, recent innovations have opened several new methods for depression treatment, many of which are effective even for people with historically treatment-resistant depression.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
The first of these novel depression treatment options is called deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS). It uses highly targeted, localised electromagnetic impulses to stimulate brain regions associated with depression. Stimulating these regions of the brain makes them more likely to activate again, increasing the baseline activity of these brain regions for months and years to come.
dTMS starts with creating a personalised brain map, which can determine whether this treatment is right for you and identify regions to receive stimulation. The procedure itself is completely non-invasive, and clients only need to wear specialised caps over their heads during the treatment.
Recent scientific investigations have found that dTMS can be tremendously beneficial for people experiencing certain types of depression. The effects of dTMS are often felt straight away, but repeated sessions can help solidify the improvements you experience during treatment and ensure that you enjoy a lasting reduction in depression symptoms.
Ketamine-assisted healing uses the dissociative psychedelic medicine ketamine to help people achieve breakthroughs during a talk therapy session. Ketamine has been used for decades in medical practice as an anaesthetic, but it has only recently been investigated as a treatment for depression.
In ketamine-assisted healing, clients take a sub-anaesthetic dose of ketamine while under the direct supervision of a therapist and our medical team. The effects of ketamine last for about two hours.
Taking ketamine in a session can help people experiencing depression talk to their therapist about the underlying causes of depression, their unique symptoms, and challenges on the road to recovery.
Ketamine can be thought of as a therapy incubator. The progress made in a single ketamine-assisted healing session might take months in traditional therapy. Although they can be achieved quickly, the results are just as durable.
Most clients feel remarkably better after just a single ketamine session, but our team will follow your progress, and repeated sessions can be used to enhance the therapeutic effect.
Just as therapy and medications work better when used simultaneously, the same is true of our novel treatment interventions. At APN London, our integrated mental health packages offer our clients a wealth of different treatment options, many of which can be used together to create even stronger results.
By offering both traditional depression treatment methods alongside novel and innovative approaches, we afford our clients the opportunity to take the best of both worlds. And while there may be no single cure for all depression, these treatments taken together may be the cure for you,
Start Treatment at APN London
To get started with treatment, reach out to the team at APN London by calling 0203.984.7699 or filling out our confidential online contact form. We understand how difficult life with depression can be — but you can recover, and our team can help show you the way.
- Cuijpers, Pim, et al. “A Meta-Analysis of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Adult Depression, Alone and in Comparison with Other Treatments.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2013, https://doi.org/10.1177/070674371305800702. Accessed 7 Jan. 2024.
- “Depression: Royal College of Psychiatrists.” Www.Rcpsych.Ac.Uk, www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/mental-illnesses-and-mental-health-problems/depression?searchTerms=depression+therapy. Accessed 7 Jan. 2024.