treatment of major depression
therapy or medications important?
by Jamal Ross
Depression is one of the most common psychological illnesses in the world with far reaching effects, stretching across ethnicities, genders, and all age groups. Major depression is a formidable opponent that can impact our lives greatly, as well as those who are closest to us. In the battle against depression, it is important to know when to use therapy, medications, or both. More importantly, it essential to know we have a comforter in Jesus.
Major depression can be treated in many ways. One way to treat depression is with psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is typically known as “therapy” to most of us. It involves speaking with a trained professional about our feelings and decisions. A psychotherapist is more than just a “listening ear.” A psychotherapist helps you work through your pain and confusion in an effort to help you make better decisions and find resolve and acceptance.
There are several techniques a psychotherapist can use during a therapy session. One of the most common and effective therapy methods is called cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. With CBT, therapists help others identify and correct distorted and poorly adaptive beliefs. CBT uses education, relaxation techniques, coping skills training and stress management to help others reach concrete personal goals in therapy. Those who do well with CBT are generally highly motivated and find value in problem solving. CBT requires those who participate to use the skill of self-observation and correction. (1)
Major depression can also be treated with medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Serotonin is a hormone that is thought to regulate mood. Low levels of serotonin are thought to be responsible for the symptoms of depression. SSRIs help to increase the natural levels on serotonin in the body. Examples of SSRIs include, paroxetine and venlafaxine. Major depression is best treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medications, but when symptoms are mild, it is your choice whether to be treated with therapy alone or medications alone. (2) When symptoms are severe and impact daily function, a strong consideration should be given to medications, as well as therapy being used together. Therefore, if you are considering stating a medication for depression, speak with you doctor.
Before considering medications for depression, it is important to know if your feelings of depression are related to another condition, such as grief, or if you have true major depressive disorder. Major depression is a label that we should not give ourselves, nor own. It is best for you doctor to determine if you have true major depression and have a possibility for the need for medications or therapy. Even when diagnosed with major depression by a doctor, listen to them, obey their instructions, but do not own the disease. Instead release it to Jesus and believe the chains of depression have already been broken. Remember, Jesus tells us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Therefore, even in your moments of heartache and depression, He is with you. We serve the “God of all comfort” (See 2 Corinthians 1:3) There is a life full of joy and fulfilled promise beyond your depression. You are closer than you realize. I can’t wait to see you there! Just believe!
1. Overview of psychotherapies. In: UpToDate, Lebow and A Skodol, TL Schwenk (Eds) UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed December 24, 2022)
2. Unipolar major depression in adults: Choosing initial treatment. In: UpToDate, AJ Rush and PP Roy-Bryne (Eds) UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed December 24, 2022)