Severe cases of depressive illnesses can be treated and the earlier the treatment, the greater the success and less likely a chance for recurrence. The first and most important step is to seek medical care. Emergency room doctors can assist with temporary care and further advise where to seek additional treatment. Psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, community mental health centers, hospital outpatient psychiatry centers, state hospital outpatient clinics, private clinics, local medical and psychiatric societies can each assist in offering care and guidance towards the appropriate treatment based on individual needs.48
Consulting a physician is necessary in ruling out potential thyroid conditions, viral infections or previously treated medical conditions creating depressive adverse reactions. Laboratory testing and physical examinations are necessary along with psychological evaluations to determine history of symptoms, duration, severity, alcohol or substance use, thoughts of suicide and/or death.48 Once an individual is diagnosed, treatment methods such as psychotherapy and medicationsare typically introduced.
When mild to moderate depression is diagnosed, psychotherapy has demonstrated successful treatment regimens consisting of short-term (10-20 weeks) cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and/or interpersonal therapy (IPT) based on individual needs. CBT assists in altering behaviors and negative thoughts that potentially contribute towards depression, while IPT focuses on working out difficult relationships triggering depressive symptoms.48 Alternative therapies often recommend a positive state of well-being emphasizing good nutrition, exercise, social support groups, and the avoidance of drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol use are strongly encouraged.48 Studies have shown the combination of psychotherapy and medications to be effective treatment approaches in treating older adults, with results indicating less recurrences after two years of combination treatment.64