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    10 Ways To Treat Depression

    Including medical treatment and complementary therapies



    If you’re battling through depression, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that around around 1 million Australian adults have depression – a very real and significant condition that affects both your physical and mental wellbeing. [1]


    Confronting mental illness can be half the battle, as it requires a great deal of courage and determination. But finding your inner strength is an integral step towards recovery – and while depression can make you feel helpless or alone, don’t forget that help is available.


    There’s also more than one way to treat depression, and those suffering should never have to go it alone. Support is available from a number of mental health professionals and services, to provide the right treatment depending on the particular type of depression.

    Here a 10 very different treatments for depression, some of which may even surprise you:


    1. Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)


    If you’ve struggled with depression on and off for some time, you may have heard of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS). For those who haven’t, it’s a form of brain stimulation therapy used to treat a number of mental health disorders including major (clinical) depression – and there’s weighty evidence to suggest this treatment offers meaningful therapeutic benefits. [2]


    This non-invasive procedure works by changing dysfunctional brain patterns with a series of short magnetic pulses. These magnetic fields are generated by a simple coil placed on the head that stimulates a small area on the surface of the brain.


    Likely candidates for rTMS are those with acute depression, whose symptoms haven’t improved with other treatments, like medication. A psychiatrist will need to provide a thorough psychiatric assessment and physical examination before using the therapy.


    2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)


    Psychological treatments for depression are often referred to as a ‘talking therapies’, and they can help people alter their thinking patterns and improve their coping skills to better manage stress and conflict in their day-to-day lives.


    Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offers a proven structural take on these types of therapies – supporting people throughout their recovery by allowing them to identify and challenge negative or unproductive thoughts and behaviour.


    The end goal of CBT is to teach those with mood disorders, like depression, to become better problem-solvers with a more realistic, positive approach to life’s stressors. In some cases, additional forms of treatment may be recommended, so be sure to speak to your doctor.


    3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy


    This little-known treatment for depression is like cognitive behavioural therapy, except that it encourages people to accept and be mindful of their negative thoughts and behaviour. Acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT, is where a therapist or psychiatrist will ask you to simply notice and allow those thoughts to pass by, instead of fighting them – essentially, it’s learning how to separate the issue from the emotion (and it’s by no means an intuitive behaviour).


    By determining what’s important, patients may begin to accept what is out of their control and commit to action that will enrich their lives and add meaning. Like with any form of therapy, it’s important speak to your doctor before avoiding all other forms of treatment.


    4. Building Strength and Resilience Therapy



    This strengths-based approach to cognitive behavioural therapy offers support for those who are struggling to bounce back from difficult life experiences. Oftentimes, depression can develop as a response to a difficult or stressful past or present, and life’s expectations can lead to mental exhaustion, cynicism, and loss of commitment.


    Building strength and resilience therapy can help people to rid themselves of the shame, isolation or vulnerability associated with depression – to inevitably get back on track and live their everyday lives to the fullest.


    5. Antidepressants and other medications


    When it comes to treating depression, there’s plenty of misinformation out there about the role that antidepressants or medications play – but they can be very useful in the treatment of certain types of depression. It’s important to remember that while there are plenty of new and different ways to treat depression, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer.


    Because there a many different types of depression, treatments should always be selected accordingly. Your mental health care professional will be the best person to advise on treatment for your diagnosed condition.


    6. Support groups and online forums


    Depression can be an isolating experience for many – which is why seeking support and motivation among those with a common objective can be extremely powerful. By turning to peer-to-peer therapy, those with depression can develop a greater understanding of their depression – and there are plenty of in-person support groups and online forums to explore.


    Attending a support group for the first time can be daunting, but just know that many of these services are run by qualified mental health experts. These groups help to break down those communication and emotional barriers, and overcome the unfair stigma associated with talking about mental illness.


    Many groups encourage socialisation by organising fun events and other activities to boost morale and improve the wellbeing of all involved.


    7. Inpatient support


    For some sufferers of depression, a hospital admission may seem like a last resort or even a personal failure. However, admission can provide the level of care and support needed to kick start recovery for difficult cases of depression. Your doctor may recommend intensive inpatient therapy if your depression involves suicidal thoughts or attempts, substance abuse, a behavioural addiction, extreme inertia (fatigue, lack of motivation) or relationship breakdown. Speak to your healthcare provider about your options.


    8. Meditation and mindfulness


    We’ve all heard about the touted health benefits of “meditation” and “mindfulness”– but just how do these practices tie in with mental health treatment? Inspired by Buddhist philosophy, yet different in many ways – the two forms of cognitive therapy work in perfect harmony to lessen the experience of depression and its symptoms.


    Meditation is the practice of reaching ultimate consciousness and concentration in order to acknowledge and self-regulate the mind – and mindfulness (a form of meditation) is about paying close attention to one’s experience of the present moment in a non-judgemental way.


    We know that depression is a major public health problem, and like many other chronic conditions, it tends to run a relapsing course – but new studies have shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy offers a promising alternative to antidepressant medication, and with better long-term outcomes. [3]  Please note: it’s important to seek medical advice before making any prescription-related decisions.


    9. Exercise



    We all know hitting the gym crafts a sculpted physique, and a good old-fashioned run is the key to supreme cardiovascular health. But research also suggests that regular exercise may increase the level of brain serotonin, which assists in mood regulation, sleep, libido, appetite and other functions. [4] This may be effective in both preventing depression, and in treating mild forms of the illness. So start enjoying the great outdoors, work on your self-confidence and boost those happy brain chemicals to reap some serious mental health benefits.


    10. Alternative medicine (complementary approaches)


    Complementary therapies should never replace medical treatment for depression, but many people use these therapies in conjunction with their prescribed treatment or medication. While a nutritious, high-fibre diet is imperative for optimal physical and mental health, there’s little evidence to support these therapies as a treatment for depression. Common herbal, nutritional and other complementary therapies include, St John’s Wort, omega 3 fatty acids (i.e. fish oil, nuts), folic acid, B-complex vitamins, and acupuncture.




    Currumbin Clinic offers a number of these treatments and support programs, and our clinicians are equipped with the knowledge and experience to treat clinical depression, depressive disorders and related conditions.


    If you’re coming to terms with depression or someone you know is struggling with depression, we’re here to listen. Call 1800 119 118 to speak to one of our qualified and compassionate staff members about treatment options today.


    This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific mental healthcare or support should consult a clinical psychiatrist.


    If you are in distress call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention.


    If you need emergency support, please dial 000 for the police or an ambulance.



    1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2008. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 2007. Cat. no. (4326.0). Canberra: ABS.


    2. Loo, C.K. and Mitchell, P.B., 2005. A review of the efficacy of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment for depression, and current and future strategies to optimize efficacy. Journal of affective disorders, 88(3), pp.255-267.


    3. Kuyken, W., Byford, S., Taylor, R.S., Watkins, E., Holden, E., White, K., Barrett, B., Byng, R., Evans, A., Mullan, E. and Teasdale, J.D., 2008. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to prevent relapse in recurrent depression. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 76(6), p.966.


    4. Ströhle, A., 2009. Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of neural transmission, 116(6), p.777.


    02 MAR 2018