Because many people spend a majority of their waking hours in the workplace, untreated depression can affect productivity and other co-workers. The workplace is a great place to provide education to employees about mental health issues such as depression. Being informed about depression gives employees greater access to prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Effective treatment for depression is available.
Recognizing symptoms of depression is vital to early and accurate diagnosis as well as initiating treatment.
Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are the most popular types of talk therapy to treat depression. Other problem-focused therapies also have been shown to be effective to varying degrees. Psychotherapy should take place with a licensed psychotherapist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or marriage and family licensed counselor. Psychotherapy can be as effective as medication for mild to moderate depression.
Medicines for depression work well when used as prescribed. Medications used to treat depression fall into several categories, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclics, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Most of these medicines have similar benefits, and all have potential side effects. Some of the side effects may actually help with some symptoms, for instance, sedation for someone who has difficulty with sleep.
Individuals with depression should work with their prescribing provider to find an effective medicine. Monitoring progress and side effects, including suicidal thinking, is an important aspect of medication management.
Uncomplicated presentations typically can be safely treated under the care of a primary care doctor. More complex cases should probably be treated by a psychiatrist. A combination of medication and psychotherapy has been found to work better than medicine or psychotherapy alone.
Other therapies: Some other treatments such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), or vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) are also approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat certain types of resistant depression. TMS and VNS are newer treatments and may not be covered by some insurance plans.
Alternative therapies: Some over-the-counter items have been shown to have mild antidepressant effects in various studies. These include the dietary supplement SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) and as omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and flaxseed). However, SAMe is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat depression.
Some mind/body techniques such as meditation, prayer, exercise, yoga, guided imagery, and massage therapy can be used as a treatment helper (in addition to more traditional methods such as medication and counseling) but are not recommended as a primary treatment option for depression.
Working with a Health Care Professional is Critical
It is important for a person with depression to work with a health care professional to obtain an accurate diagnosis and to create a personalized treatment plan. Self-treatment is not recommended for a serious illness such as depression. Those undergoing treatment for depression should never stop without first talking to their health care provider.