Therapy, Medication, Or Self-Help: Which Is Best For Clinical Depression

Happy senior people after yoga sport class having fun sitting outdoors in park city
Happy senior people after yoga sport class having fun sitting outdoors in park city

Depression is a mental condition that’s ubiquitous yet continuously misunderstood, namely in how it should be treated.

Medical practitioners describe this mental disorder in terms of severity—moderate, mild, or severe. When an individual experiences a severe form of the condition, that’s known as clinical depression or unipolar or major depressive disorder (MDD).

According to statistics, approximately 21 million adults have been diagnosed with clinical depression, reaching 8.4% of the US’s adult population.

This type of depression causes the individual to become severely impaired in terms of functioning at work or school and in their interpersonal relationships. They are also much more withdrawn than those suffering from other forms of depression.

Compared to its milder counterparts, this condition often seriously damages a person’s daily life, causing drastic changes in eating and sleeping routines. For this reason, most patients with clinical depression are also prone to many lifestyle disorders.

Clearly, it’s far removed from its romanticized depictions in the media. Finding the right treatment approach is equivalent to saving patients’ lives. Fortunately, providers have made great strides in taking much-needed information on treatment online, as seen at

Which is the best way to manage clinical depression? Many facts have to be considered first to answer that. This article provides the basics of what you need to know.

Causes Of Clinical Depression

While mental health experts have yet to establish a specific cause for clinical depression, a major factor seems to be genetics. It’s been found that people with family members who have depression have a higher chance of having it themselves.

Clinical depression may also be triggered by life experiences such as the following:

  • Loss and bereavement
  • Personality issues like low self-esteem
  • Giving birth to a baby
  • Loneliness spurning from circumstances like being disowned by your family
  • Drugs and substance abuse
  • Life-threatening illnesses like heart disease
  • Divorce
  • Loss of income
  • New life challenges like getting married or moving to a new location

A person going through any of these stressful life events is highly susceptible to clinical depression. Physical and emotional support, as well as a medical diagnosis, are crucial.

Symptoms Of Clinical Depression

For a person to be diagnosed with clinical depression, they must exhibit several symptoms every day for at least two weeks. That includes:

  • Low motivation
  • Lack of appetite, weight gain or loss
  • Disinterest in hobbies and activities you used to enjoy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Consistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or anxiousness
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, and pessimistic
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, or worthlessness
  • Excessive sleeping or insomnia
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor concentration and focus on day-to-day activities
  • Irrational decision making
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble remembering things
  • General body tiredness
  • Unexplained physical issues like headaches

These symptoms can get in the way of everyday activities, affecting your performance in school or work and endangering your prospects of healthy, happy living. Once you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, the next step is finding an appropriate treatment plan with the help of a medical professional.


How Is Clinical Depression Treated?

At the moment, experts have identified major modalities for managing and treating clinical depression. Depending on your unique circumstances, you may be prescribed:

  1. Therapy

Otherwise known as counseling, talk therapy, or psychotherapy, it’s a treatment for people struggling with mental health conditions like depression.

Psychotherapy treats problematic thoughts, behaviors, or feelings to develop healthier, more effective habits and coping skills. It can help patients redefine their experiences to stay healthy despite their condition.

Some forms of therapy that can help treat clinical depression include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This evidence-based treatment helps identify negative thought patterns and eliminate distorted perceptions. A professional teaches you to change your thoughts and actively practice positive thinking.

Some steps involved in this type of therapy include:

  • Learning and recognizing pessimistic thought patterns: You may be asked to jot down the instances that cause you to have negative thoughts and the number of times they occur in a day. They may give you this as an assignment for several days, where you keep track and write down all the moments when you feel negative emotions as they occur.
  • Examining your thoughts: The next step is taking a closer look at these thoughts and actions with the professional. This is the part where you pinpoint what creates them and challenge what they really are.
  • Testing assumptions: The next step is deliberately cross-checking the assumptions and beliefs that cause these negative thoughts against reality. This will help you realize that the circumstances causing your negative perceptions and severe depression are either untrue or not representative of your whole life.
  • Substituting: Finally, the professional will speak positively about your life to help you replace the negative self-perception and thoughts with better ones. From there, you can develop better coping skills for your condition.

The beauty of cognitive behavioral therapy is that besides being an effective treatment plan, it has long-term positive effects even after you’re done with treatment.

  • Interpersonal Therapy

This form of psychotherapy is based on the idea that people often become depressed or have psychological difficulties when experiencing relationship problems. Sometimes the issues can be:

  • Loss of good relationships
  • Bereavement
  • Childhood abuse
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Conflict with family members, relatives, or friends
  • Marital separation

With this understanding, the professional explores the internal and unresolved conflicts you may be going through. They then focus on treating past and current symptoms and issues. It aims to achieve the following:

  • Reduce depression symptoms
  • Improve your connections with your family, colleagues, and friends
  • Enhance interpersonal and communication skills

Unlike cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy is a short-term treatment lasting only a few months. It only requires a little self-assessment and homework; the professional does the rest of the work.

  • Other Types of Therapy

The therapies discussed above involve an individual and a professional alone. But sometimes, the doctor may recommend treatment that involves other people, like the following:

  • Family therapy: This works out family-related problems and resolves conflicts with the therapist’s help.
  • Group therapy: This therapy involves a group of people going through similar problems as you. They share their experiences, worries, inspiration, advice, and most effective coping strategies.
  • Couples therapy: Your doctor may advise you to see a couple therapist to help resolve the problems between you and your partner.

Therapy is often recommended for individuals with mild to moderate cases of depression.

  1. Medication

Antidepressants are prescribed to directly address chemical imbalances in the brain. They help patients achieve the level of function they need to maintain healthy routines.

There are many types of antidepressants, so it may take time to find the one that works best for you. It’s critical to work closely with your doctor so they can examine the effect a chosen medication has on you. It will help them know if the treatment is working and find the next course of action.

Some commonly prescribed antidepressants include the following:

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Atypical drugs
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

Each of these antidepressants targets different parts of the brain to help re-establish regular thought and behavior patterns.

It’s essential to exercise patience as you take antidepressants. They may take time to work, especially if it’s your first time and your doctor has yet to pinpoint the best possible dosage and formulation. That may last for weeks or months. Always consult your doctor if you feel the medication isn’t working or want to switch to another antidepressant.

  1. Self-Help

The other treatment option for depression, besides those involving professional intervention, is self-help. These are non-medical solutions that you can take to help manage your symptoms. Most counselors and physicians advise that patients take these steps alongside medication and counseling.

Some of the self-help strategies that you can implement include the following:

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating healthy and balanced meals
  • Surrounding yourself with people that bring out the best in you
  • Watching comfort shows to decompress and relax
  • Changing your routine from time to time
  • Constructively challenging negative thoughts as they come

Incorporating these actions in your life may initially seem like taking small, ultimately useless steps. But by taking them one at a time, you’ll get used to these healthy habits and actively pursue more. These can help you reduce the symptoms of clinical depression and recover a semblance of the happy life you deserve.

Know Your Options

With this breakdown of what clinical depression is, its probable causes, symptoms, and treatment options, it’s clear that there’s no hard-and-fast way to manage clinical depression. The appropriate treatment plan may involve a combination of these three, the ratio changing according to your needs.

The process of overcoming clinical depression is not as clean-cut as it seems here. The key is persistence, courage, and a willingness to reach out to others. You’re bound to face difficulties as you go along. But no amount of hindrance can change the progress you accumulate.

Contact a professional, follow their advice, and give yourself a chance. This way, the path to healthy, happy living beyond depression is reachable.

I'm NOT a doctor! I'm just passionate about health and healthy leaving. The information on this website, such as graphics, images, text and all other materials, is provided for reference and educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. The content is not intended to be complete or exhaustive or to apply to any specific individual's medical condition.