Chronic depression treatment generally consists of a combination of different types of therapies, usually antidepressants and psychotherapy. Antidepressants affect biological factors contributing to depression, and psychotherapy helps change thoughts and behaviors and teaches depression management techniques that assist in dealing with depression.
Other treatments, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), may be helpful in treating people who don’t respond to other methods. Lifestyle changes can also facilitate dealing with depression.
Dealing with Depression: Social Interaction
Increasing social support can help to combat chronic depression symptoms. These symptoms typically follow a cyclical pattern; they make you want to avoid social interaction, but being alone can exacerbate depression symptoms.
Supportive friends and loved ones can encourage you to participate in social activities that can help to reduce your symptoms. You can promote socialization and participation in enjoyable activities by:
- Joining a club
- Taking a class
Dealing with Depression: Physical Activity
Depression management techniques include getting plenty of exercise, which provides both long- and short-term benefits. Aerobic activity promotes neurotransmitter activity in the brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin. Specifically, yoga may help to stabilize your mood and increase relaxation. Though it may be hard to motivate yourself when battling chronic depression, physical activity will reduce your symptoms.
If you have trouble initiating or maintaining an exercise program, consider exercising with a partner or group. This makes exercise a social activity, and a commitment to other people can help you to stay on track. Exercise is also a healthy outlet for the frustrations and negative feelings associated with chronic depression, and can help to keep you from turning to more destructive coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.
Watch for Changes in Chronic Depression Symptoms
You’ll want to watch for changes in your chronic depression symptoms. Dysthymic individuals, for example, should be aware of the baseline level of their symptoms in order to recognize when they worsen. A significant increase in symptoms severity may indicate development of chronic major depression, or double depression (in which intermittent episodes of major depression appear in a person with dysthymia). Changes in symptoms may require changes in treatment, so report these to your doctor.
Some antidepressants also carry an increased risk of suicidal thoughts in certain populations. Indicators include:
- Making arrangements or giving away prized possessions
- Preoccupation with death
- Reckless behavior.
If you or a loved one with chronic depression shows suicidal signs, seek help immediately. Talk to a doctor or a trusted friend or family member, or contact a suicide hotline.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the Mayo Clinic website: www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/mh00043.
Medline Plus Staff. (n.d.). Major depression. Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the Medline Plus website: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000945.htm.
Science Daily Staff. (2009). Popular antidepressant associated with a dramatic increase in suicidal thoughts amongst men, study finds. Retrieved June 7, 2010, from the Science Daily website: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091014193213.htm.
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) Staff. (n.d.). Symptoms of major depression. Retrieved June 6, 2010, from the SAVE website: www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=A806E240-95E6-44BB-C2D6C47399E9EFDB.