Is There A Cure For Depression?
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC
When you have depression, it can be easy to feel helpless and hopeless – after all, those are symptoms. You may be wondering, is there a cure for depression? Here’s some hope and help for you: There are multiple cures for depression!
Depression can be caused by several different things, so the cure for your depression will probably lie in what’s causing your depression. It will also depend on who you are as a person. In fact, some people respond best to combinations of cures.
The first step to understanding the best option for you is understanding what options are out there.
What Causes Depression?
Understanding what cures are right for you requires knowing what is causing your depression. There are a couple of things that could cause your depression. Remember, any one of these factors may be at play in your life, but for many people, a combination of two or more of these factors are causing depression.
Your Genes And Natural Brain Chemistry
It’s unfortunate but true: some of us are likely to experience depression simply because we were born that way.
Scientists don’t fully understand how, but genes do seem to play a role in depression for most people. It has to do with brain chemistry.
Your brain communicates with itself and with the rest of your body through a series of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. If your body doesn’t make enough of one of these chemicals, makes too much of another, or doesn’t have the right balance of receptors, it can cause or contribute to depression.
The balance of neurotransmitters in your brain can also be damaged by substance use. This can form a vicious cycle in which individuals experience depression, overuse substances like alcohol, and then see that substance leads to worsening depression.
For many people, depression is brought on by lifestyle changes, like moving to a new place, losing a loved one, or even losing a job. This is called “adjustment disorder.” Some people adjust to the new situation, while for other people it’s more complicated.
Women can also experience depression related to hormone challenges at various stages of their lives, and may develop a potentially severe form of depression after giving birth called “postpartum depression.” New research shows that postpartum depression can affect new fathers, too.
Mental Health Researcher Johann Hari is an advocate for looking at depression as a social health disorder rather than a mental or emotional health disorder. While it’s easy to dismiss depression as a chemical imbalance, that’s also dismissive.
Your depression may be caused at least in part by chemical imbalances in your brain, but they may also be caused by unmet needs. Do you have a job or pastimes that are meaningful to you? Do you have close relationships with friends and family?
It could be that your depression is less a medical concern and more a social concern. But we’ll get back to this when we get into the cures.
Combinations Of The Above
A theme throughout this article has been and will continue to be that depression is often more complicated than a simple “X caused my depression.” For many people, a combination of more than one of the above situations can cause depression.
For example, a woman may have a natural predisposition to depression that doesn’t cause problems until it is “triggered” by hormonal changes due to lifestyle changes that together create a problem.
Similarly, someone may undergo a difficult experience and explore substance use, which gets out of hand and aggravates their depression as well as helping it to stick around longer than it otherwise would have.
Cures For Depression
Now that we have a better understanding of the causes let’s take a look at some of the causes and which one might be right for you or the person in your life experiencing depression.
Talk therapies are what you may think about when you think about therapy for depression and other mental health conditions. An individual meets with a therapist/counselor or a group of other people with experience with their condition to talk about their feelings and how they can manage their emotions during difficult times.
Talk therapies are highly effective for people dealing with depression that doesn’t have a biological component. For example, if you’re dealing with depression because you lost your job, but you don’t have problems with your brain chemistry, contributing to your depression, talk therapy might be enough for you.
That having been said, even if your depression is caused by biological causes, talk therapy can still help you to manage your emotional symptoms. In fact, while some people do use talk-therapy essentially for their entire lives, other people can get what they need from talk therapy and then using those tools on their own from then on.
Medications for depression work by altering your brain chemistry back towards a healthy balance. Different medications work in different ways, but some of the most common options work by preventing your body from reabsorbing neurotransmitters so that the brain has more time to use them.
This means that modern antidepressants are far less likely to be habit-forming or addictive than earlier antidepressants that simply increased the volume of feel-good neurotransmitters. While well-intentioned, these earlier generations could cause receptors in the brain to burn out, causing further problems.
Unfortunately for people with depression and substance abuse problems, most illicit substances – including alcohol – can have dangerous interactions with common antidepressant medications.
That means that people with substance use problems need to quit using those substances before getting medication for their depression. That often means undergoing substance abuse counseling to help them to drop their substance use as quickly as they safely can.
As we’ve seen, for most people with depression, that depression isn’t caused by just one cause. That means that multiple approaches are often the most effective.
For people with clinical depression, medication may be enough, but they see the most improvement in the shortest time if they also undergo talk therapies.
Similarly, substance abuse counseling almost always includes – or at least offers – some form of talk therapy to help the individuals manage their depression. At the same time, they quit their substance use so that they can get medication if necessary.
Determining What Cures Are Right For You
So, now we’ve looked at causes for depression and causes that might work for you. So, which ones are right for you?
In most cases, this is really a question of knowing who to talk to.
For some of the cases, particularly for women regarding things like lifestyle changes, the good news is that you should already be talking with your healthcare provider, and they should know to watch out for depression at these stages in your life.
Medication requires a diagnosis, which means working with your healthcare provider. The same is true for formalized substance abuse counseling. However, community-based solutions like alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous can both be engaged in without prescription.
Technically, anyone can access talk therapies with a licensed and professional counselor or therapist. However, there are many obstacles potentially standing in the way.
For one, many communities, particularly rural communities, don’t have easy access to counselors and therapists in their area. Other people may have access but may not want to see a therapist or counselor in their area because of the stigma that is often associated with mental health issues – again, particularly in rural communities.
Further, counselors and therapists are notoriously expensive. For most people, they only become affordable with the help of insurance plans, and most insurance plans that cover counseling require a diagnosis.
Exploring Telehealth Solutions
All of the obstacles to seeing a counselor or therapist in person, particularly without a prescription, can be overcome through telehealth.
In mental health, telehealth involves using a secure internet connection to meet with a licensed and professional therapist or counselor through video or voice calls and private chatrooms.
These platforms are more flexible for busy schedules. They’re more affordable for people that don’t have insurance that covers talk therapy or that are waiting on a diagnosis. They’re more accessible for people that don’t have access to a counselor or therapist in their community, and they’re more private for people that do have access to a counselor or therapist in their area but would prefer not to see them.
For more information about how to meet with a therapist or counselor over your computer or smartphone, visit BetterHelp.
There Are Cures For Depression
When you have depression, it can be easy to feel like there is no cure. However, there is a cure. There are lots of effective treatments available. The first step is discovering what cure or combination of cures is right for you.
This can be its own journey involving looking at your needs, but it is also a journey that you should be going on with your care providers. They can help you to understand the causes of your depression, pick the best solution, and help you to get advanced systems of care when you need them.
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