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Treatment For Depression

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Treatment For Depression

There are various effective ways of treating depression, and in most cases a combination of two or more from the following would be the best:

  1. Developing a positive mental attitude and setting goals
  2. Counseling – talking it out with a friend or counselor, and seeking emotional support
  3. Maintaining regular lifestyle with meaningful work
  4. Medication, when one does not have the mental energy to carry out the above. Medication can be provided either by a psychiatrist, or by a general physician who is conversant with mental health. Professional help is necessary when it becomes a case of clinical depression, as described earlier in this write-up.

What few of us know is that treating chronic pain can often help alleviate depression, and vice versa. The older antidepressants, known as tricyclics, have well known analgesic effects – even at lower doses than depressed patients receive. Newer antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil may not be quite as effective, but they’re safer and may be easier to tolerate. Almost any drug that relieves an underlying psychological condition can help control pain. In pain rehabilitation centers, specialists often combine these medicines with combine these medicines with common analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen etc.

Drug aside, mind-body techniques such as meditation, hypnosis and progressive muscle relaxation can help modulate emotional responses to pain. And psychotherapy can teach us to recognize thoughts and behaviors that amplify our feelings of distress. No one escapes having those feelings from time to time. Fortunately, they don’t have to dominate our lives.

The West has made tremendous progress in treatment of depression since Imipramine, the first anti-depressant was used in the 1950’s. The stigma has largely been eliminated, and people do not hesitate to seek professional help. In the USA more than a 100 million prescriptions are made out annually for antidepressants. The advent of Prozac has made the problem easier to handle, because there are minimal side effects, and there are no addictive qualities of modern medication. In severe cases, even Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) is administered, bringing in instant relief. This “shock treatment” has been so badly portrayed by the media, that in India its mention itself brings about horrors in the minds of people. Of course the West is still grappling with increasing incidence of bulimia and anorexia, both of them having connection to depression.

In India most of us try to battle the problem alone, and without understanding the techniques. While it is good to believe in oneself and one’s inner strength, there is nothing wrong in seeking a supporting hand while we walk our painful journey out of depression. The lists of treatment given above are only indicative, and it is advisable that one seeks the help of an expert.

One also needs to be careful in the stage when one is pulling out of depression. While its intensity is severe, the person may not even have the energy to attempt suicide, but during the recovery stage, suicidal tendency can be high. One may give up at a particular point, seeing no point in struggling further. Similarly, one need not become complacent when one recovers from depression, because no one can predict when there may be a relapse. Taking preventive measures is absolutely essential, being aware of what led to earlier bouts of depression, maintaining a positive lifestyle – all play a vital role in ensuring that one does not succumb to this malaise again.

About the author


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