When a person is experiencing a persistently depressed mood—i.e., clinical depression—and makes the decision to seek psychiatric or psychological help, this is a big step. It can be a move in the right direction, but sometimes, once therapy begins, it may seem like several steps back rather than forward toward problem-solving, especially for those seeking retreats for depression.
What Are The Main Causes Of Depression?
Depression is a mental illness that is thought to occur in adults and adolescents as a result of a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Risk factors that increase an individual’s risk of developing depression include a family history of depression, personal history of mental illness (such as major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder), stressful life events, and certain medications or substance abuse or substance use disorder.
Some of the main symptoms of depression are overwhelming feelings of sadness, loss of interest in things you were once passionate about, and physical symptoms like loss of appetite and disruptions with sleep. These symptoms can make living with depression difficult, which is why many seek professional help.
What Are The Treatments For Depression?
Frontline treatments for depression include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes.
Firstline treatments are effective for many people, but some find that their depression symptoms persist or that the side effects are too strong. Noninvasive procedures like electroconvulsive therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation are often utilized in these cases. These procedures can also help someone experiencing suicidal thoughts who’s at an acute risk of self-harm.*
*If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can be reached at 988 and is available 24/7.
In addition to professional treatment, some additional strategies that may help alleviate symptoms of depression include:
- Prioritizing daily physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Engaging in proper sleep hygiene practices
- Trying to reduce isolation and connecting with friends and family members
- Engaging in relaxation techniques to manage stressors
- Avoiding alcohol or drug use—or addressing concerns around substance misuse
If you believe you may be experiencing depression, it’s crucial to reach out to a mental health professional who can provide a diagnosis and assist you identifying triggers and setting treatment goals.
Why You May Feel That Your Treatment Is Not Working
Getting help for depression may be like seeing a physical therapist to assist in the recovery process from an injury or surgery. The injury has already occurred, and the purpose of physical therapy is to help the body learn or relearn how to function or to compensate for the loss of functioning in some way.
Physical therapy exercises may be painful; muscles and joints that have not been used in some time can be reactionary. The person undergoing treatment may go home and feel uncomfortable aftereffects. Sometimes people give up physical therapy due to the challenge and discomfort of the process; if they do so, they may never fully regain the use of the injured limb.
The same is true for mental health therapy, especially when it comes to treating difficult conditions such as depression.
How You Can Address This Lack of Effectiveness
Leaving therapy early may cause setbacks in a person’s recovery. If they choose not to continue with their treatment plan for depression, the unconscious mind may continue peeling back the layers on its own or perhaps in dreams, or times when the mind is unguarded. This can cause people to sink into an even deeper depression as cognitive distortion becomes more prevalent.
A good therapist may explain that things can get worse before they get better; therapy can be about facing pain, recognizing its origins, and working through the process of placing it in perspective. If a person with depression never addresses the source of the depression in therapy, and never allows the pain to come to the surface, then recovery may be inhibited.
Of course, if you feel your therapist is not a suitable match or your values are not quite aligned, you reserve the right to terminate the connection and seek another counselor. This is important if you prefer to work with a therapist with a background in a specific therapy approach such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Gestalt therapy, or sublimation therapy. Moreover, if you prefer to work with a therapist of color or an LGBTQ+ therapist who may understand your experience, you can connect with a professional that aligns in that way. One of the most important factors in mental health therapy is trusting your therapist.
Online Therapy For Depression
If you’re having concerns about your treatment plan or how you are progressing in treatment, consider bringing this up with your therapist, questioning and skepticism are appropriate responses when trying new therapies. They may be able to clarify for you what you are experiencing as a normal part of the recovery process or help you to explore other types of treatment that may be more effective for you.
An online-therapy platform like BetterHelp allows people to communicate with a therapist on their schedule from the comfort of their home. Internet-based counseling is also beneficial because it’s generally more affordable than traditional, in-person therapy.
Additionally, a study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, found that digital therapy is just as effective at treating depression as in-person therapy. With BetterHelp, therapists are available via live chat, phone, and video conferencing.
Worried That Your Depression Treatment Plan Isn't Working?
Depression is a serious mental illness that can have significant impacts on your daily life. It can take a long time to treat, and treatment looks different for every person. If you feel that your depression treatment is no longer as effective as it once was or has not had the effect you wanted, it may be time to discuss your treatment with your therapist and re-evaluate it to see if you are at a normal plateau or if you need to change tactics.
Designing a treatment plan can seem challenging, especially if it requires resurfacing painful topics. But a licensed therapist at BetterHelp can assist you as you take this step toward a healthy state of mind.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are General Methods Used To Treat Depression?
The general methods used to treat depression, as well as many other behavioral health conditions, are talk therapy and medications. They will likely be a part of your treatment program. Your mental illness treatment should be personalized to you to an extent. For many people, medication can assist in getting back into a healthy life.
What Types Of Depression Are There?
There are many types of depression. Some of them include:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Postpartum depression
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or sadness
- Angry outbursts and irritability over small matters
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Sleep problems, including insomnia or too many hours of sleep
- Tiredness or lack of energy
- Change in appetite—either reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain
- Unexplained physical symptoms (such as headaches, back pain, or stomachaches)
- Substance use
If you believe you have symptoms of depression or another behavioral health condition, talk to a healthcare provider about mental health illness treatment rooted in evidence-based research. Feel free to ask them as many questions as you need to understand the symptoms of depression, your behavioral health status, your diagnosis, and the treatment planning process. It’s important to understand and agree with your treatment program. Ask your healthcare provider questions so you feel comfortable with your mental health illness treatment.
Your treatment program may include support groups. Support groups can be particularly helpful in the case of a behavioral health issue because support groups bring you together with people going through similar experiences to provide emotional support and coping resources. Having a good support system is important for depression, so do what you can to build up your support system.
Family therapy can also be helpful if you want to improve communication in your family, or if you want your family to be able to have a better support system. If you already have regular talk therapy, ask if they are also equipped to do family therapy.
If you have issues with alcohol or drugs, your treatment will likely include treatment for that. Substance use disorders can be common in people with mental illness. People who have mental illnesses and substance use disorders have a dual diagnosis. It’s common for a treatment program to address both parts of a dual diagnosis at the same time.
If you believe you are dealing with substance use disorders, reach out to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They will make a strategic course of action to address this. You may receive treatment at a national center. You may also look to a national center for additional resources.
Why Is A Treatment Plan Important?
Treatment plans are important because they can take your entire health into the picture. They may set goals for you to follow, and they can be a collaboration between you and your mental health team.
Who Needs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
Many people can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective, according to evidence-based research. It can be particularly helpful for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. It helps you to learn how to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with healthy ones. It has proven to be effective for many different types of mental illnesses.
Why Is It Important For A Client To Be Involved In Their Course Of Treatment With Depression?
Your treatment should reflect what is happening in your life, and how you want to grow, and it serves as a way to hold yourself accountable. It should fit into your overall treatment program.
What Is A Barrier Some People Face When Seeking Mental Health Treatment?
Common barriers to seeking mental health treatment include:
- Thinking your mental illness is not severe enough
- Fear of stigma
- Negative experiences or attitudes toward treatment
- Lack of affordability and availability
What Questions Do Therapists Ask Their Clients?
You can find some common questions here. Once you’re more established, you’ll likely drive a lot of what your therapy is about.
If you have a child you want to prepare for therapy, you may consider using The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has resources for how to support the mental health and well-being of children and is a national center. The Center of Excellence for Infant and Childhood Health Consultation has additional resources for mental health and school readiness and is also a national center.
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