Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), commonly referred to as clinical depression, is a prevalent and serious mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities. This mood disorder goes beyond the normal fluctuations in mood that individuals experience and significantly impacts one’s ability to function in various aspects of life. People diagnosed with clinical depression experience five or more of the following signs and symptoms for more than two weeks at a time:

  • Depressed mood, most of the day, nearly every day
  • Diminished interest or pleasure in most or all activities 
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Significant increase or decrease of appetite
  • Insomnia most days
  • Fatigue or loss of energy most days
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt nearly every day
  • Decreased concentration nearly every day
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Noticeable restlessness or lethargy nearly every day

Although these symptoms are distressing and can seriously interfere with a person’s daily, social, family, and worklife, clinical depression is treatable.  

 

What is the best treatment for clinical depression? 

 

Clinical depression does not show itself in two people in exactly the same way, and each person also responds to treatment differently.  Many patients with major depressive disorder are able to live happy healthy lives with some combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. The psychotherapy treatments help the patient to navigate daily life in a healthy way, while the pharmacotherapy treatments address chemical imbalances in the brain to help regulate mood. Below are a few common treatments used to help manage symptoms of clinical depression:

 

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) involves learning to identify negative thought patterns and behavioral responses to stressors and to replace them with constructive thoughts and healthy behaviors. 

 

  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) addresses problems relating to interactions with others. It can focus on family relationships, work disputes, and changing circumstances so that the patient can learn to solve problems and communicate in ways that do not worsen the symptoms of depression. 

 

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressant medications that increase levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is known as a “feel good” chemical in the brain, and is involved in emotions, appetite, and cognitive thinking.  Depression is often associated with low levels of serotonin.

 

  • Serotonin and Noradrenaline Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) are antidepressant medications that help increase levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine as well as serotonin. Norepinephrine is related to energy and alertness, motivation, and socialization. 

 

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) involves sending electrical pulses to the brain through electrodes applied to the brain. This is done under general anesthesia and can relieve depressive symptoms for an extended period of time. 

 

While there are other methods of treatment for clinical depression, these are some of the most common. The best way to determine which treatment works best for each person is with the help of a professional mental health provider. 

 

The best treatment for major depression is the one that works for you. 

While some people experience relief from their symptoms of clinical depression with their first attempt at treatment, others try a few different methods of treatment before they find the one that works. Your chances of finding relief from your symptoms of depression increases significantly when you enlist the help of mental health professionals who are experienced in assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health disorders.  

When you come to Pacific Health Systems, you receive the highest quality care from psychiatrists and psychologists in San Diego who dedicate their lives to helping each patient optimize their mental health and live their best life. If you or someone you love is seeking relief from clinical depression or any other mental health disorder, we’d be glad to help. Please give us a call today.