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How to Recover From Depression

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Table of Contents

Depression, a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, affects millions worldwide.

It’s not merely feeling sad or going through a brief period of emotional turmoil; it’s a profound condition that can impact every aspect of one’s life.

Many international health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Psychiatric Association, recognize it as a significant public health concern and have set guidelines for its diagnosis and treatment.

Recovering from depression isn’t a straightforward journey or the same for everyone. While the significance of professional therapy and medication is widely acknowledged, a holistic approach that encompasses lifestyle changes, social support, and self-awareness is also crucial.

It’s a widespread misconception that one can simply “snap out” of depression with sheer willpower or that it’s a sign of weakness. In reality, recovery often requires professional help, personal effort, and time.

What are the Treatments for Recovery from Depression?

Treatment for Depression can be simplified into two major categories: self-care strategies and medical interventions. Together, they form the foundation for effectively managing and overcoming depression’s challenges.

1. Self-care Strategies: Self-care strategies encompass a set of intentional actions and practices that individuals undertake to nurture their mental and emotional well-being. These strategies include adopting a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep.

Engaging in mindfulness and meditation techniques aids in managing stress and cultivating emotional resilience. Furthermore, seeking social support and utilizing creative outlets counter feelings of isolation and provide avenues for self-expression.

These self-care strategies empower individuals to actively participate in their recovery journey and foster a positive mindset.

2. Medical Intervention: Medical interventions refer to professional medical treatments to alleviate depressive symptoms. These interventions often include psychotherapy, which involves structured therapeutic conversations to address negative and behavioral thought patterns.

Another facet of medical interventions is the prescription of antidepressant medications. These medications are intended to restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain and alleviate the chemical imbalances associated with depression.

In more severe cases, advanced therapies like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) modulate brain activity and relieve persistent depressive states.

These medical interventions are guided and administered by qualified healthcare professionals, ensuring a comprehensive approach to depression recovery. Together with self-care strategies, these medical interventions effectively play a pivotal role in helping individuals manage and ultimately overcome the challenges posed by depression.

How Do People Heal from Depression?

People can heal from depression through various methods, including therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and strong social support. Recovery is often achieved by combining these approaches tailored to individual needs.

What Are Self-care Strategies to Recover from Depression?

Self-care strategies to recover from addiction are listed below:

  1. Change Your Environment:
    Avoid toxic people and negative environments. Spend time in nature, which can boost positive feelings. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who can guide you through this challenging phase. Consider shifting to a healthier environment. If changing locations isn’t feasible, online therapy could offer support while maintaining distance from negativity.
  2. Set Realistic Mental Health Goals:
    Set achievable goals and establish rewards for reaching them. Focus on your recovery journey while remaining aware that improvement is possible. This mindset can sustain motivation and a sense of progress.
  3. Avoid Dwelling on the Past:
    While processing past traumas is essential, don’t get trapped in constant sadness. Balancing learning from the past with focusing on the present enhances your ability to move forward.
  4. Open Communication About Mental Health:
    Communicate your feelings despite the difficulty of doing so. Seeking help is crucial for managing depression symptoms. Extreme sadness, hopelessness, or lack of motivation might indicate depression, which can be treated with therapy and medication.
  5. Consider Behavioral Therapy and Medication:
    Professional help is essential for treating depression. Healthy lifestyle changes are beneficial, but sometimes medical intervention is necessary. Combining therapy with medication could provide effective relief. Cognitive behavioral therapy can reshape negative thoughts and stress management skills.
  6. Prioritize Regular Exercise:
    Exercise releases endorphins that elevate mood, improve sleep, and enhance overall well-being. Research suggests exercise is as effective as medication in treating depression, with no side effects.
  7. Adopt a Healthy Diet:
    A nutritious diet supports mental well-being and reduces depression risk. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to lower depression and anxiety. Good nutrition provides energy and promotes restful sleep.
  8. Explore Meditation and Yoga:
    Supplement treatment with meditation and yoga if medication isn’t yielding results. These practices manage stress and anxiety, contributing to improved mental health and brain function.
  9. Practice Gratitude:
    Regularly acknowledging the positive aspects of your life can be a powerful tool in combating depression. Keeping a gratitude journal where you jot down things you’re thankful for can help shift your focus away from negativity. This practice encourages a more optimistic outlook and can gradually improve mood and well-being.

What Are the Medical Therapies to Recover from Depression?

What are the Treatments for Recovery from Depression Design for Recovery

Medical therapies for recovering from depression typically involve professional interventions guided by mental health experts. Major medical therapies to recover from depression include:

  1. Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy): Various types of psychotherapy are effective in treating depression. These therapies involve structured conversations with a trained therapist to address negative thought patterns, develop coping strategies, and explore emotions. Common approaches include:
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Focuses on identifying and modifying distorted thought patterns and behaviors contributing to depression.
    • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Aims to improve interpersonal relationships and communication skills to alleviate depressive symptoms.
    • Psychodynamic Therapy: Explores unconscious emotions and past experiences to understand and address underlying issues related to depression.
  2. Brain Stimulation Therapies:
    • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): In severe depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments, controlled electrical currents induce seizures. ECT can bring relief by affecting brain chemistry.
    • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS): This non-invasive procedure uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain’s mood-regulating regions. It’s an option for treatment-resistant depression.
  3. Ketamine Therapy: Ketamine, often administered as an infusion, has shown promise in rapidly alleviating severe depressive symptoms, even in cases where other treatments have failed. It works through different mechanisms compared to traditional antidepressants.
  4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): This involves implanting a device that delivers electrical impulses to the vagus nerve, which connects to areas of the brain associated with mood regulation. It’s an option for treatment-resistant depression.
  5. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): In some cases, electrodes are surgically implanted into specific brain regions and connected to a stimulator device. This method is considered for severe depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
  6. Combination Therapy: In complex cases, combining psychotherapy and medication might yield better results.

How Much Do Depression Recovery Therapies Cost?

The cost of depression recovery therapies varies based on the treatment type, duration, insurance coverage, and severity of depression. Psychological therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can range from $65 to $250 per session. Insurance coverage also plays a role, and some plans cover medication and therapy while others involve out-of-pocket expenses.

Is EMDR Used for Treating Depression?

Yes, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can be used to treat depression. While EMDR was initially developed as a treatment for PTSD, research has shown that it also has benefits in treating depressive disorders.

A feasibility study published in 2018 found that it is feasible to use EMDR to treat long-term depression, and there is a case for further research to investigate its efficacy.

One study reviewed using EMDR to treat depression for patients diagnosed with major depression disorder (MDD) that significantly impacted their quality of life. The participants achieved a significant and marked reduction in their symptoms of depression after receiving six to eight sessions of EMDR.

What are the Medications to Recover from Depression?

medications to recover from depression

Medical treatments for depression include various medications that target specific neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for mood regulation. It’s imperative to seek guidance from a healthcare professional to identify the most appropriate medication for your situation. The following are several medication classes frequently used in depression treatment:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs):

Examples: Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Escitalopram (Lexapro), and Paroxetine (Paxil).

Mechanism: SSRIs elevate serotonin levels in the brain, a neurotransmitter influencing mood. They’re often the primary treatment due to their favorable side effect profile.

  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs):

Examples: Venlafaxine (Effexor), Duloxetine (Cymbalta), and Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

Mechanism: SNRIs target both serotonin and norepinephrine, offering a broader impact on mood regulation.

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs):

Examples: Amitriptyline, Nortriptyline, Imipramine

Mechanism: TCAs, older antidepressants, affect serotonin and norepinephrine levels. They’re considered when other treatments are ineffective, with attention to potential side effects.

  • Atypical Antidepressants:

Examples: Bupropion (Wellbutrin), Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Mechanism: Atypical antidepressants operate through unique pathways. Bupropion, for instance, acts on dopamine and norepinephrine, offering an alternative when sexual side effects arise.

  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs):

Examples: Phenelzine (Nardil), Tranylcypromine (Parnate)

Mechanism: MAOIs influence various neurotransmitters, including serotonin and norepinephrine. They’re reserved for cases resistant to other treatments due to dietary and drug interaction considerations.

  • Ketamine and Esketamine:

Mechanism: Ketamine and its derivative, esketamine, are noted for rapid antidepressant effects, especially in treatment-resistant depression. They employ distinct mechanisms compared to traditional antidepressants.

How Much Do Depression Recovery Medications Cost?

The cost of depression recovery medications varies based on the type of medication and insurance coverage. Antidepressant medication costs can range from $30 to $200 per month. Insurance coverage impacts the final cost, with some plans covering medication expenses while others requiring out-of-pocket payments.

What is Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Treatment-resistant depression is a term used to describe a person who has not responded to at least two different types of antidepressants.

Many people with depression experience relief after taking an antidepressant. But for others, just one antidepressant is not enough. If you or someone in your life has experienced two or more episodes of depression that did not respond to treatment, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible.

How to Cope Up with Depression Naturally?

These are some strategies to cope with depression naturally:

  • Engage in regular exercise to release endorphins that boost mood.
  • Maintaining a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to better mental well-being.
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation to manage stress and enhance emotional regulation.
  • Seek social support from positive individuals, and consider therapy or support groups.
  • Prioritize sufficient sleep and consider creative outlets like art or music. Spend time in nature to promote positive feelings.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Depression?

The recovery duration from depression varies significantly based on individual situations. Here are some important factors to consider:

  • Residual Symptomatology: Residual symptoms are a consistent predictor of relapse in depression. Studies show that those with lingering symptoms tend to relapse earlier.
  • Duration of Illness: The length of time one has been experiencing depression can influence recovery time. Research indicates that recovery rates decline after the first six months of major depression.
  • Severity of Depression: Recovery time can be impacted by the severity of depression. Severe cases may require longer, more intensive treatment.
  • Type of Treatment: The chosen treatment approach affects recovery time. Psychological therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can span weeks to months, while antidepressant medication might take weeks to show effects.
  • Individual Factors: Personal factors, including genetics, personality, and life circumstances, also contribute to the recovery timeline.

What is Residual Symptomatology?

Residual symptomatology refers to lingering symptoms of a condition, such as depression, even after the individual has shown improvement in other areas. It highlights the persistence of certain signs that may require further attention or adjustments in treatment.

  • Gauhar, Yasmeen (2016). The efficacy of EMDR in the treatment of depression. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 10(2), DOI: 10.1891/1933-3196.10.2.59
  • [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Treatments for depression. [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from:
  • Mark Ng, C. W., How, C. H., & Ng, Y. P. (2017). Managing depression in primary care. Singapore Medical Journal, 58(8), 459-466.
  • Malandrone, Francesca; Carleton, Sara; Hase, Michael; Hofmann, Arne & Ostacoli, Luca (2019). A brief summary of randomized controlled trials investigating EMDR treatment of patients with depression. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 13(4), DOI: 10.1891/1933-31.4.302
  • Wood, Emily & Ricketts, Thomas (2013). Is EMDR an evidence-based treatment for depression? A review of the literature. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 7(4), DOI: 10.1891/1933-3196.7.4.225

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Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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