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Treatment for Depression

Depression can be treated in various ways. Counseling, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medicines may all be used. Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, also may help.

Your healthcare provider will help you find the best treatment. For severe depression, a very small number of people may need to stay in a hospital for a short time, especially if they are thinking about suicide.

Work with your health care team to find the best treatment for you. To get the most benefit, be sure you find a therapist who has experience treating people who have depression and who is trained in proven therapies (sometimes called "evidence-based therapies.") And take your medicines as your healthcare providers tell you to. Keep in mind the following:

  • If your depression is mild, you may need only therapy.

  • If you have moderate to severe symptoms, your healthcare provider probably will suggest medicine and/or therapy.

  • If you are using medicine, your healthcare provider may have you try different medicines or a combination of medicines.

  • You may need to go to the hospital if you show warning signs of suicide.

If you don't get treated, depression may last from months to a year or longer. A small number of people feel depressed for most of their lives and always need treatment.

Lifestyle decisions

You can help yourself by getting support from family and friends, eating a balanced diet, avoiding alcohol, staying active, and getting enough sleep.

Other treatment

Other treatments for depression include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and alternative or complementary treatment. ECT involves an electric stimulation to the brain. Alternative treatments include use of the herb Saint John's wort, mindfulness meditation, and exercise. 

Do you have thoughts about suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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