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Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people (WHO). Depression is not just sadness. Although it includes feelings of sadness and loss, depression also causes a loss of interest in activities and decreased ability to function. It can even lead to suicide.

The types of depression include clinical depression, persistent depressive disorder (or major depressive disorder), postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder.

Although depression doesn’t have an instant cure, it is treatable. People find relief from their symptoms through different treatment approaches. Some treatment plans use a combination of therapy, exercise, nutrition, and medication (e.g. antidepressants).

Do Rehabs Treat Depression?

Yes, many centers focus specifically on treating mental health conditions, including depression. Many other rehab centers treat co-occurring mental health disorders like depression alongside substance use disorders. You can attend several levels of treatment for depression. These include:

  • Outpatient, where you meet once or twice a week with others in treatment and your care provider.
  • Intensive outpatient, where you meet 3-5 times a week for several hours at a time for more intensive care.
  • Partial hospitalization, where you meet 5-7 times a week for a full day, or most of one.
  • Residential, where you live in a rehab center for 28+ days and engage in treatment with a community of peers and treatment providers.
  • Inpatient, where you live in a treatment center or hospital and receive 24/7 monitoring.

In each level of care, you’ll likely receive 1-1 therapy with a therapist and group therapy. The exact type of therapies used will vary based on your symptoms, medical history, age, and more. But you can expect to engage in one or more types of evidence-based therapy throughout your treatment. Learn more about attending rehab for depression.

What Therapies Are Used to Treat Depression?

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): a form of psychotherapy that encourages you to challenge and change unhelpful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  2. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): a short-term form of psychotherapy that helps you identify and address interpersonal issues that may contribute to your depression.
  3. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): an approach that combines elements of CBT and mindfulness to help you become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  4. Psychotherapy: a form of counseling that helps you identify underlying issues that may contribute to your depression.
  5. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy For Depression (MBCT): a form of meditation that encourages you to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and body sensations.
  6. Medication: Antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are the most commonly prescribed medication for depression.

Psychiatrists and therapists often use a combination of different therapies depending on the individual patient’s needs and unique presentation of depression. Psychiatrists may also prescribe medication as an adjunct to therapy. Ultimately, the goal of treatment is to help the patient to develop healthy coping skills and strategies to manage depression.

What Is Dual Diagnosis: Understanding Depression and Addiction

A dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder, is a mental health disorder that accompanies a substance use disorder.

Depression and addiction often co-occur, meaning that a person can suffer from both a mental health disorder (depression) and a substance use disorder (addiction) at the same time.

People with depression may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to try to manage their symptoms, which can lead to addiction. On the other hand, people with addiction may experience depression after substance use changes their brain chemistry.

People with co-occurring depression and addiction are more likely to experience more severe symptoms and have a higher risk of relapse, suicide, and other negative outcomes.

In the US, over 9 million adults have a co-occuring disorder and half of those with a serious mental disorder have co-occurring substance use disorder.

To navigate depression, you and your care team may use a combination of therapy and medications. With the right treatment, you can manage depression and live a life without symptoms.

Is Depression a Chronic Condition?

Treatment for depression can reduce symptoms to no longer meet diagnosis requirements. Chronic depression (also called persistent depression or dysthymia) has severe symptoms lasting at least 2 years.

Depression can go into remission and recur throughout your life. But recurrences can be treated efficiently and quickly.

Is It Possible to Experience a Recurrence of Depression?

Relapsing with depression is possible. You can seek professional treatment to understand and treat the root causes of the depression to prevent future relapses. Most depression treatment programs include relapse prevention planning, aftercare, and connections to additional resources, like support groups.

A recurrence doesn’t mean your treatment failed. It just means you need additional help to get back into healing.

Can I Use The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for Depression Treatment in The U.S.?

If you’ve been clinically diagnosed with depression, then you can receive Family and Medical Leave Act support. The FMLA ensures that you do not lose your job when taking necessary time (up to 12 weeks) off to heal from a serious health condition. This act also guarantees that you retain the same terms of employment that you originally had for your job.

What’s provided in your FMLA may vary and has requirements for eligibility. Talk with your Human Resources (HR) department at work or look online for more information on FMLAs.

Questions to ask your provider:

Keeping a few questions in mind can help you navigate the beginnings of treatment and make it simpler to choose a provider.

  1. How would you describe the symptoms I'm experiencing?
  2. What treatments do you recommend for depression?What should I expect from treatment?
  3. What kind of side effects can I expect from the medications you prescribe, if any?
  4. Are there any lifestyle changes I should make to help manage my depression?
  5. Are there any support groups or other resources I can use to help manage my depression?
  6. What kind of follow-up care do you recommend?
  7. How can I tell if my depression is getting worse?
  8. What should I do if my symptoms don’t improve?
  9. Are there any other mental health conditions I should be aware of?
How Can I Find Support?

Lifestyle Changes for Depression

Small lifestyle changes can help manage depression, such as prioritizing time outside in the sunlight, bettering your sleep hygiene, and eating foods rich in vitamin D (fish, eggs).

Stay connected to friends and family to maintain a strong support network as you navigate your symptoms and treatment.

Sleep Hygiene

Establish a regular sleep routine and prioritize getting enough sleep. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule, create a sleep-friendly environment, and practice relaxation techniques before bed to promote better sleep quality.

Try stress-reducing activities like mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. These practices can help manage stress levels and improve overall well-being.

Regular Exercise

Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Healthy Diet

Maintain a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Some evidence suggests that certain dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, may be associated with a lower risk of anxiety and depression.

Medications for Depression

Depression often involves disruption in serotonin levels. Evening out your levels through medications can help relieve symptoms.

SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are an effective class of medications for depression. Other forms of medications may be a better fit for you. Your doctor or psychiatrist will match you to an effective antidepressant.

Finding the right fit may take time. Your prescriber may try different doses and different medication classes before your symptoms abate. Depending on your situation and symptoms, you may take medications for a few months or for a few years.

When talking to your doctor about antidepressants, keep these questions in mind:

  • How long will it take for me to feel the medication’s effects?
  • Will this medication, or class of medications, interact with any supplements or other medications I’m taking?
  • What time of day should I take this medication?
  • Can I take this on an empty stomach or do I need to eat beforehand?
  • What are the most common side effects?
  • Does this medication have a Black Box/Boxed warning for an increased risk of suicide? (Your doctor will most likely bring this up right away, but it’s good to check.)
  • Could this prescription become addictive?
  • What will withdrawals look like if we decide to stop this medication and/or try another?
  • Who can benefit from a depression treatment center?
    • Anyone with depression, especially if their depression has led to unsafe behaviors or suicidal ideation.
  • How long does treatment at a depression treatment center last?
    • Residential treatment for depression usually lasts 28+ days. Outpatient care and therapy can last months, or as long as you need.
  • What qualifications should I look for in a depression center?
    • You should make sure a center is appropriately licensed for their region. In the US, most residential centers will have CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) accreditation or Joint Commission accreditation.
    • Qualified Staff: Look for centers with staff that have relevant qualifications, such as: Psychiatrists (MD or DO) Psychologists (PhD or PsyD) Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC).
  • Can I use insurance to cover the cost of treatment at a depression treatment center?
    • Usually, yes. It depends on the center, so reach out to confirm they’ll accept your insurance before you go.
  • Are depression centers only for severe cases?
    • No. If you feel you need help, depression treatment centers are ready to help.
  • Will I have access to ongoing support after completing treatment at a rehab center for depression?
    • Yes, reputable rehab centers for depression understand the importance of ongoing support in maintaining long-term recovery. They often provide aftercare programs, which may include outpatient therapy, support groups, and relapse prevention strategies. These resources are designed to help individuals transition back into their daily lives while continuing to receive the support they need to sustain their progress.
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