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Depression is a mental disorder that causes the affected parties to have a poor concentration, bad moods, and feelings of guilt as well as reduced self-esteem. Nobody is immune from it. Depression can happen to anyone, irrespectively of age, gender, social status, and education level. In fact, many people in the society accepted as successful, famous and prosperous, those who seem to have reached self-actualization, suffer from this condition. It is a disease like any other. However, depression is more of a mental state than a physical one (Ainsworth 7).
Living with depression or with a person suffering from it is quite a complicated task. It is not easy since the affected parties have to be handled with care to fasten a healing process. The fact that you may not even be aware that you are depressed makes it more complex. If you do not know this, you can nothing do to correct your state. The research has shown that many depression patients are not even aware that they are sick since they may feel quite normal physically. For example, many new mothers suffering from a post-natal depression do not know of their condition (Ainsworth 7).
Patients suffering from depression can recover from this depressed state by taking medication. However, it is not the only treatment method for them. There are other ways in which depression can be treated without necessarily taking medication. Recent investigations have proved that there are many means to treat this disorder other than by addressing medicine. Other methods can be better since they do not have the side-effects common with using anti-depressants. For example, nausea, loss of sexual desire, fatigue, weight gain and constipation are the only few ones. These side-effects have made most depression patients opt for non-medication treatment ways like psychotherapy (Ainsworth 7).
General Information and Statistics on Depression in the World
Various studies conducted worldwide show that depression cases are more common than physical illnesses. Today, nearly 350 million people are suffering from this mental disorder. On average, one in every twenty people has had depression in the previous year. Since this disorder starts at an early age and is recurring, it reduces people's functioning. According to the WHO, depression is a major cause of disabilities worldwide when you consider the total time in years lost due to it. It is known to reduce an ability to work and brings suffering to both a patient and the relatives. Unfortunately, very few persons know the typical manifestations and consequences of depression. In almost all developed countries, health services are concerned about the situation. They make efforts to promote the information about depression and how to treat it (Andrews 13).
This mental disorder is often perceived both by the patient and by others as a manifestation of bad mood, extremely increased laziness and selfishness, immorality or natural pessimism. It is important to keep in mind that the depressive state cannot be determined solely by the individual’s bad mood. In fact, there are the patients who are not being in not good humors but are always jovial. For this reason, being all the time happy does not obligatory mean that this person is free of depression.
In reality, the depressive state is a disease that requires the intervention of specialists to address and treat it. The correct diagnosis at an early stage is a key for the patient’s fast recovery. It allows a proper treatment and observation. Moreover, it is evident that when depression is diagnosed and the treatment starts early, the probability of the condition recurring reduces significantly (Andrews 14).
In most cases, the general public does not have the necessary information regarding depressive states. Consequently, they do not properly understand the nature of this disorder. People tend to assume that if their condition happens due to some difficulties in life, it is not the depression. It should not be the case. Whatever the cause, the state should be handled as depression. Therefore, the disorder should be treated accordingly. Moreover, some people are of conviction that depression is not a serious disease. On the contrary, doctors argue that this disorder is an illness like any other. Thus, it should be treated with all seriousness it deserves (Fortinash and Holoday-Worret 568-570).
It has been estimated that 80% of depressed patients initially seek help from general practitioners. In these cases, the correct diagnosis is found only in about 5% of such sick people. The smaller number of individuals can access the right therapy for their condition. Unfortunately, the usual reception in the clinic does not always allow distinguishing between physiological manifestations of depression and the presence of a true physical illness. Therefore, it leads to the formulation of the incorrect diagnosis. Consequently, many patients are being treated for other diseases. Meanwhile they should be cured for depression. Moreover, some individuals are prescribed a symptomatic treatment that is not aimed at releasing from this illness but only decreases its symptoms. For this reason, these patients spend a lot of time doing some clinical and laboratory examinations. The condition is developed to severe levels when psychiatrists are later involved. Sometimes it gets too late; and the sick person already has the manifestation of chronic depression. The diagnosis of depression itself is important. The reason is that it is possible to affect the treatment. The absence of such care worsens and lengthens the process of recovery (Fortinash and Holoday-Worret 578-579).
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Background of Depression Treatment
The history of depression treatment as well as the disorder itself goes back to the ancient times. It is known that in Ancient Greece, Hippocrates was curing the depressive condition with herbs. In Ancient Rome, depression treatment was a controversial issue. However, if the overall weakness of the patient was known, the doctors of that epoch had the following conviction. Working with the patient's mood as well as entertaining such person by conversations was a good treatment factor (O'Hanlon 123).
In the 18th century, German doctors described heaviness in the arms and legs as well as the weight on shoulders as the typical symptoms of depression. The medical practitioners were known to treat the disorder symptoms with a rather strange way. Patients were tied to a swivel chair and wheel, assuming that the centrifugal force can resolve this severity (O'Hanlon 123).
In the 19th century, cannabis was imported into Europe. The psychiatrists of that era used this herb to treat depression. The cannabis, better known as marijuana, was used for the treatment of depression by Chinese doctors. Most practitioners of that time believed that it was necessary to replace the symptoms of the mental illness by the similar ones caused by the marijuana usage to get rid of melancholy. It was found out that it caused excitement and euphoria. This effect, however, had not been used for a long time (O'Hanlon 124).
In the 20th century, the patients feeling depressive were treated by hydrotherapy. By this approach, they were exposed to the sudden immersion into cold water. The duration of this procedure used to be equal to the time required to pronounce the Psalm Miserere. This method of treatment was also applied by putting the head of the sick person into a bath pouring 10 to 50 buckets of cold water above (Fortinash and Holoday-Worret 2-3).
In the 21st century, the treatment of depression evolved in numerous ways. There were both medical and non-medical means of curing this condition. The doctors in the modern world now use antidepressants. In fact, the research has stated that more antidepressants are prescribed yearly as compared to drugs for heartburn, pain management, cholesterol lowering or hypertension. In 2007, $232.7 million prescriptions were written by doctors for this medication in the United States. It is obvious that many depression patients opt for medical treatment and hence use antidepressants. In developed countries, more and more individuals are diagnosed with this depressive state. The main method of dealing with this disease is believed to be antidepressants. However, some experts believe that one should not rely on drugs but rather should use the non-medication methods to treat the problem. While many prescription drugs (anti-depressants are included as well) can relieve the symptoms of the mental illness, they still have some serious side effects. Hence, it may be good to try other natural methods to fight depression (Fortinash and Holoday-Worret 15).
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Non-Medication Approach to Depression Treatment
There are several non-medication methods to treat the depressive state. One of them is light therapy. In practice, it is known to improve the moods of people who suffer from a seasonal affective disorder. Its victims feel depressed at certain times, usually in winter. By this method, such patients are exposed to a special box that produces a strong ray of light. It has been proven by many studies that it can increase their mood (O'Hanlon 126).
Another way to cure depression without using medication is massage. Many researches have been conducted on its role for curing the depressive state. The results allude to the fact that massage has a significant effect in releasing from the symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients of different ages and genders (O'Hanlon 203).
In addition to this, a lot of scholars believe that nutritional supplements can treat depression and make the recovery process faster. Various herbal additions can help fight against the disases. It is recommended to increase the omega-3 and vitamin D in meals. This method is not directly based on medication. On the contrary, it usually involves a chemical interference into the person’s health system to achieve the desired results (O'Hanlon 128)
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Psychotherapy Method of Treating Depression
In most cases, the most acknowledged means to treat the disorder is psychotherapy. It is a type of treatment where the patient interacts with his/her therapist. The two parties discuss various issues starting from the individual's feelings, relationships, moods, thoughts, and ending with concerns. It often helps the patient cope with depressive symptoms, improve social skills, and increase self-confidence (O'Connor 175).
There are several types of psychotherapy: Cognitive, interpersonal and behavioral activation ones are among the most widespread types of therapy. Behavioral one helps the patient change his/her potentially self-destructive behaviors. The therapist helps the person replace bad habits with good ones. Most doctors determine it either as cognitive or behavioral therapy. Interpersonal type assists the sick person regain control over the moods and functioning. The therapist helps the patient to learn how to interact and communicate with other people and how to cope with some difficult situations (Moy 32).
In most cases, psychotherapy sessions are held at the doctor’s office once per week for 30-60 minutes. At the beginning of the primary stages, the person may require approximately two or three sessions. However, as the treatment process progresses, the number of meetings could be reduced to one time every two weeks. The decision on the frequency of sessions is made as the patient and the therapist interact. The first meetings are usually aimed at identifying the causes of depression and the factors that have the tendency to contribute to the deterioration of its flow. Although therapy can reduce the symptoms of disorder within few weeks, the best results can be expected after 8-10 weeks or even more (O'Connor 233).
Several researchers believe that psychotherapy is not an alternative, but important addition to the medical treatment of depression. In contrast to the medication, the procedures and approaches found in the anti-depressive therapy involve a more active role of the sick person in the treatment process. Psychotherapy helps people develop skills in their emotional self-regulation in the future to cope with the crisis without getting back into the depressive condition (Biegler 119).
The treatment of depression by the therapy approach is the most effective and evidence-based method. The psychological basis for the condition is an internal unconscious conflict. For example, the desire to be independent and at the same time to receive a large amount of support, help and care from other people is the most widespread contradiction inside the patient. Another typical conflict is the presence of intense anger, resentment towards others, combined with the need always to be kind. The sources of these contradictions lie in the patient's life becoming an object of analysis of therapy. Each case has its own unique content of conflicting emotions. Therefore, it requires an individual psychotherapeutic work. The goal of psychotherapy is to establish the awareness of the contradiction and assist in its constructive resolution. It means that the patient is expected to learn how to balance independence and intimacy, develop an ability to express the feelings and maintain relations with other people. Thus, psychotherapy is aimed at resolving the current problems of the person and removing such behavioral symptoms as passivity, renunciation of pleasures, monotonous life, isolation from others, the impossibility of planning, and engaging in a purposeful activity (Biegler 143).
The method of psychotherapy as a non-medication approach consists in a synthesis of approaches mentioned above. Therefore, this means combines all those advantages already stated. It unites the work with the current life difficulties and behavioral symptoms of disorder as well as the acceptation of some internal psychological sources. As a basic psychological mechanism of depression, the so-called negative thinking is frequently regarded. It is reflected in the tendency of depressed patients to consider everything in a negative view. Changing this way of attitude requires a great amount of careful individual work. It aims at developing a more realistic and optimistic acceptation of the world around and the future pending (Moy 21-27).
An additional form of depression treatment without using medication is an exercise. Studies have proved the fact that aerobics is as effective as using anti-depressants in curing the depressive state. However, for this means to work, the exercise must be consistent. This method has no side effects. It is quite cost-effective as compared to using medication (Moy 35).
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Depression is a condition that requires to be treated just like any other physical disease. However, the mode of cure differs, either depending on the patient or the health practitioner involved. Some people prefer going through medication, while others feel that the non-medication methods are better for them. Before choosing any of the mentioned means, it is important to know the side-effects and costs involved as well as other related factors. Going via the non-medication way is quite advantageous since it has fewer side-effects. It especially concerns psychotherapy and exercises. However, for each way, there is some cost involved. Considering that the result of any method is treating the depression and having a healthy individual thereafter, it is wiser to pass through the non-medical means unless the other one is prescribed by a medical specialist.