Depression treatments have evolved into what's now a very effective solution for many people. While the causes and manifestation of depression will vary from individual to individual, the right combination of treatments—both drug and non-drug—can usually be found with careful observation from a depression specialist. Today, many people still resist treatment for depression, perhaps in part because some types of treatment that used to be in general use were ineffective at best, and potentially harmful at worst. Those treatments are a relic of the past, however, and today's therapies are generally considered safe as long as they're used as indicated.
Drug therapies. Antidepressant drugs are generally prescribed in moderate to severe cases of depression, and often in the earlier stages of treatment for mild depression. These drugs are classified according to how they affect the brain, and which neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for transmitting nerve impulses in the brain) they work on to achieve a more elevated and stable mood. Because everyone is different, and various types of depression respond differently to therapy, it may be necessary to try several types of antidepressants before finding the right one for you. Most doctors will try each for 2 to 3 months, and may switch to an antidepressant from another class if a drug doesn't seem to be effective. Some antidepressants do have withdrawal symptoms, and others are potentially dangerous to children and adolescents.
Psychotherapy. The Mayo Clinic defines psychotherapy as, "a general term for a way of treating depression by talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health provider." This is also often referred to as "talk therapy" or depression counseling. This type of treatment generally consists of 30- to 60-minute sessions at regular intervals. The time between sessions will depend on your individual needs, but most individuals go at least once a week in the earlier stages of treatment. If you've just started or switched antidepressants, your therapist may wish to see you every couple of days until your overall reaction to the drug is known.
Lifestyle changes. There are a number of changes you can make in your everyday life to help combat depression. Try to limit the amount of stress you have in your life, and carefully schedule important or necessary activities to ensure they all get done in a timely manner. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and exercise daily. Set aside a little bit of time every day to go outside. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, and always leave yourself enough time for sufficient quality sleep. These simple changes can help eliminate some of the most common depression triggers, as well as make it a little bit easier to cope in the midst of a depressive episode.