The Best Ways to Treat Depression

In 2013, 15.7 million American adults dealt with a major depressive episode. If you are living with depression, you're not alone, but that doesn't mean you should settle for this as the norm. Treatment can help you return to a balanced, emotionally-healthy life.


More than one in 10 Americans take an antidepressant medication. Although scientists are not exactly sure how antidepressants work, they do know that they work on brain chemicals that regulate mood.

Common antidepressant categories include:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: SSRIs are a large and commonly-prescribed group of antidepressants. They work by changing the balance of serotonin in your brain. Examples are paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa) and escitalopram (Lexapro).

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors: Similar to SSRIs, SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor).

  • BupropionBupropion (Wellbutrin) works on the neurotransmitter dopamine.

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors: MAOIs are an older category of antidepressants, so they aren't prescribed as frequently as some others, but they can be useful for patients with atypical depression symptoms. Phenelzine (Nardil) and Isocarboxazid (Marplan) are two examples of MAOIs.

Antidepressants must be used under a doctor's care, and you should carefully follow your healthcare provider's instructions. It can take four to six weeks to see results, and you may need to try more than one type of antidepressant before finding one that works well for you.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Also known as CBT, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy involves working with a mental health professional to change the way you feel and act. Over the course of a set period of time, your therapist will help you understand how the way you think influences your feelings and actions. According to the National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, the average course of treatment with CBT is 16 weeks.

Other features of CBT include:

  • It teaches people to deal calmly with problems.

  • It involves questions. Therapists ask questions of clients and teach them to ask questions of themselves, also.

  • It includes homework assignments, such as completing assigned reading and practicing techniques.

Studies have shown that CBT can be as effective at treating depression as medication is, and for patients with severe depression, a combination of CBT and medication can work well together. CBT is also useful for helping patients not to fall back into depression.

Lifestyle Changes

Although therapy and medication may be required for effectively treating your depression, pairing them with lifestyle changes can help cure your depression and keep it away. Mayo Clinic recommends the following tips for dealing with depression:

  • Exercise, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.

  • Keep your day organized. Use a planner or reminder notes to keep you on track.

  • Stay involved with friends and family members.

  • Reduce stress and say “no” to unnecessary obligations. Practice relaxation techniques.