How Do You Treat Depression: Treatments And Coping Methods

Mental illness can be complex. Folks that struggle with mental health issues have to face the possible stigmatization, the laundry list of emotional and physical issues, and the struggle of finding the right doctor and treatment to help them get better – and a large part of that is understanding how depression can be treated.

In this article, we cover the most common depression treatment methods used by mental health professionals. We also go over several constructive coping strategies that you can use in conjunction with treatments to manage your depression.

What Happens If Depression Is Untreated?

Depression tends to sneak up on people. Individuals with depression may feel hopeless, apathetic, or sad for periods of time. These symptoms can often indicate a deeper problem, and leaving them untreated can profoundly impact your overall wellbeing.

Untreated depression can lead to isolation from friends and family, making it difficult to identify changes in your behavior without someone giving you feedback. Furthermore, living with depression may result in neglecting your health, resulting in sleep problems, weight fluctuations, and a weaker immune system.

This makes you more vulnerable to health conditions that can impact your mental and physical state. In severe cases, depression may even lead to suicidal thoughts and the very real risk of acting on them.

Treatments For Depressive Disorder

While everyone experiences depression differently, mental health professionals usually look out for a few behavioral patterns. Here are some of the most prevalent symptoms of clinical depression:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Increased irritability and less control of emotions
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fatigue and sleep issues
  • Weight fluctuations (roughly 5% or more a month)

If a patient meets the diagnostic criteria, then the attending doctors usually propose several treatment plans. The following section describes four common types of recovery plans.

Medicine Prescriptions

Since chemical imbalances can cause depressive disorders, you may be prescribed antidepressants that suppress depressive symptoms in your brain. There are many different types of antidepressants – here are three of the most commonly used FDA-approved drugs for managing depression:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): The most common type of antidepressant, this drug reduces how serotonin (the happy hormone) is reabsorbed – giving your brain more serotonin and preventing mood fluctuations.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs): SNRIs increase the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your brain, stabilizing your mood. Some SNRIs also relieve pain, which can make depressive symptoms worse.
  • Tricyclic antidepressant (TCAs): If SSRIs do not work, patients may be prescribed TCAs as a backup option. However, while it’s proven to be effective, scientists have yet to understand why.


Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a common type of treatment used to help patients suffering from clinical depression. Through this, the therapist helps the patient navigate their traumas or stressors that have caused their symptoms. With a little time and effort, talk therapy aims to address salient stressors and decrease their overall influence on a patient’s day-to-day life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

As the name suggests, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on a patient’s cognitions of themselves, their mental illness, and the world around them. Through talk-oriented sessions, a mental health professional can help patients recognize unhelpful thought patterns and recalibrate their thoughts. This can help tremendously with overall recovery, especially when combined with journaling or active relaxation techniques.

Interpersonal Therapy

Another type of talk therapy is called interpersonal therapy, where the therapist focuses on the patient’s relationships with their friends and family. This treatment plan aims to re-energize the patient’s relationships and encourages them to relate with others. Because clinical depression has its way of isolating people, this type of therapy can help patients develop more robust support systems.


The choices we make, the thoughts we entertain, the relationships we have, and our overall worldview can profoundly impact our mental health. Mental health professionals have long believed that all types of mental illnesses are influenced by biological, psychological, and environmental stressors – and that clues us in on how there are many valid approaches to treating clinical depression.

While seeking professional help is the best course of action, sometimes it just isn’t feasible. Whether it’s due to stigma, family issues, or monetary restraints, there are so many reasons why a person avoids “traditional” treatment plans. That’s why many people turn to “natural” treatments in conjunction with therapy.

For example, meditation can help you work through negative thoughts, honor your feelings, and identify issues without judgment. A study from the National Institutes of Health found that meditation alongside psychotherapy can prevent depressive relapses.

Brain Stimulation Therapies

We know that depression usually occurs due to a mix of chemical imbalances and external stressors, and most types of treatments tend to address one or the other. However, patients that undergo severe depressive episodes may not respond to other types of treatments, and that’s when brain stimulation therapies enter the picture:

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): TMS stimulates the patient’s brain using waves of magnetic fields. While this sounds a little scary, it actually decreases the severity of depression-related symptoms.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): As described by Mayo Clinic, this procedure uses electric currents to trigger a small seizure in the brain. This process is generally painless, but patients can be anesthetized to minimize any discomfort.

How To Manage Your Depressive Disorder

Medically-informed treatment options are effective, but they don’t work on their own. Patients also have to take steps toward their recovery. Here’s how we recommend starting your journey to treatment and recovery:

Seek Help From A Healthcare Provider

Before you can manage your depression, you need to identify it. We recommend going for therapy with a mental health professional, even if you’re unsure about your symptoms. After all, everyone can benefit from talking to a professional. Through these sessions, your doctor will be able to ascertain if you fit the diagnostic criteria. However, it’s important to note that diagnoses are built over time and won’t be given on your first session.

Identify Behaviors That Hinder Recovery

Major depressive disorder tends to feed into itself. Because a person with depression is less likely to proactively address their declining interest and wellbeing, the symptoms worsen over time, leading the individual to feel even worse.

In conjunction with going to therapy, we recommend writing down your behaviors, feelings, and triggers. This is so you can talk them out with a licensed professional and find ways to manage your daily stressors.

Have A Support Network

You can’t fight depression yourself – it’s essential to have a support network that you can rely on when things get bad. A reliable support system can come from many places, whether it’s family members or close friends.

You can also join a depression support group to make you feel less lonely and have a space to share your story openly. Support group members typically share tips and suggestions on how to cope with depression, which can be helpful.

Practice Self-Care

Depression tends to rob people of the desire to do most things, like take care of themselves or even have fun. While it can be difficult, the best thing you can do for yourself is forging a routine filled with good habits. That means filling your day with little self-services that improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are a few examples of what that means:

  • Putting more healthy food on your menu
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercise often
  • Engage in enjoyable activities


There are many treatments for depression, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best way to get better is to seek professional help and find a treatment plan that works for your specific circumstances.

You don’t have to battle depression alone. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, contact us for more information on our depression treatment programs.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Response and Updates for Clients, Families, and Referents Read More