Treatment for depression works. It’s a journey, for sure, but it works. Everybody responds differently; I don’t want to give you a false hope that treatment will completely erase depression. It may, but probably not. What treatment does for me is to give me more depression-free days, and when I do cycle down into depression, it’s not as severe and doesn’t last as long.
My approach to treatment is holistic. Just one or two components of my treatment would give me improvement, but I get the best results by embracing them all. Everything I do works together. I strongly suggest seeking multiple elements of a broader treatment plan. Medication alone, for example, may be enough for some people, but typically it takes more than just one thing.
Considering that treatment for depression is a complex journey, it takes a lot of work, which is hard when you are depressed. You have to go back to your doctor if your meds aren’t working. You can’t quit going to therapy. You have to maintain accountability relationships with others in recovery. Stay on course!
Here are the main components of my treatment:
- Medication. It may not be appropriate for everyone; talk to your doctor and see if it is right for you. Preferably see a psychiatrist, who is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health and can prescribe meds.
- Therapy. I go to therapy at least every two weeks, but usually every week. Even during depression-free periods therapy gives me tools to weather the next storm and helps address underlying issues. I’ve discovered so much about myself and how my upbringing has resulted in present issues apart from my depression. A therapist is usually a psychologist (not a medical doctor, but typically has a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology and advanced training) or a counselor such as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). It’s ok to switch therapists if one isn’t really working for you.
- Celebrate Recovery. I go to a local CR group every week. CR is a Christian-based twelve-step recovery program for any “hurt, habit, or hangup.” People attend CR to help in recovery from substance abuse and addiction, but also mental health issues like depression, anger, or codependency. CR is for everybody! It’s a place to be with other people in recovery who are honest about themselves and open about their faults. Having a safe place to open up about my struggles with mental illness is very therapeutic.
- Community. Since I began recovery, I have been very open about my struggles. I’ll tell anyone who will listen about my depression, addiction, and thoughts of suicide. As a result, I’ve met many people who say, “me too.” People I already knew, but I didn’t know they were struggling. And people who I met because of my openness, such as when I publicly give my testimony. Having this community means that I know I’m not alone, and I have people to hold me accountable and listen when I need to talk. When I bump into people in this community, we always ask, “how are you doing?” And we mean, how are you doing?
- Spiritual. This one doesn’t stand alone – it forms a foundation for all the other aspects of my treatment discussed above. God loves you. He has a plan for you. He wants you to be free.
Treatment needs vary person to person. What works for me might not work for you. You may need additional treatment elements that I don’t. There are more intensive treatment options available. The most important thing is to get treatment.