Major Depressive Disorder: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects
Last Updated: Nov 25, 2023
What is the treatment?
Depression refers to a perpetual state of unhappiness and is a fairly common ailment. It affects both, men and women, though women are usually more susceptible to suffering from it. Depression is often accompanied with other symptoms like lethargy, listlessness, suicidal thoughts and feelings, and a general sense of doom. This ailment is very well known and there are many different treatment options that can be offered to a patient. Therefore, it is considered a highly treatable ailment and patients should not worry or stress over their depression.
One of the most common ways to treat depression is through medication. Antidepressants work in many different ways but they are all essentially designed to increase the serotonin in the body, leading to more balanced moods and feelings. Therapy is also another way to treat depression and can be accompanied with taking medication. The goal of therapy is to essentially understand the underlying cause of the depression and help patients navigate through the ailment. It also arms patients with the knowledge they need to combat depression in the future, if they feel it coming on again.
Finally, in extremely cases where neither medication or talking helps, electro convulsive therapy is a form of treatment that can be administered. This helps to stabilize the electrical synapses in the brain and lead to a more balanced outlook.
How is the treatment done?
Major depressive disorder is diagnosed through physical exams, psychiatric evaluation, and tests and once it is confirmed, your doctor will prescribe the correct medication for you. Most antidepressants increase the serotonin levels in the system and such medications are referred to as SSRIs. They are the first line of defence and often do work. If SSRIs don’t work, you may be prescribed a tricyclic depression, MAOIs, or other types of mood stabilizers to help combat the depression. Since treatment is unique to each patient, it can take a while to find the correct combination of medicines.
Once the correct medication is determined, you will be advised to visit your doctor at least once a week, or once in two weeks, depending on how severe your ailment is. This is to determine whether or not there are any side effects and to gauge the suitability of the medication as, often, these pills take a while to take effect. You will be recommended a therapist if you don’t already have one and will be advised to undergo talk therapy. This is to help you develop your own coping mechanisms and understand what triggers you have. During the therapy process, the treatment is often at a slow pace and gradual as the goal is not to push you when you are still too emotionally vulnerable. The treatment essentially includes a lot of analysis and introspection. It is an important aspect of getting the major depressive disorder treated.
In extreme cases, patients undergo electro convulsive therapy. During this, you will be sedated and a bite will be inserted into your mouth to prevent you from harming your tongue. The shocks are administered to the temple and you will be unconscious while it happens.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
If you have been suffering from depressive for at least a month, or three weeks, you are eligible to seek treatment. One of the first things you will be asked by your doctor is how long you have been feeling this way. People who have developed depression due to other physical ailments that they may be suffering from are also eligible to seek treatment. Depression is quite common in cancer patients, amputees, HIV patients, and other patients with severe conditions.
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
Life is filled with ups and downs and it is natural to occasionally feel sad over something. This does not necessarily mean that you have depression. If your sadness is not accompanied by any of the other symptoms of depression, and if it occurs over specific, natural events (such as losing a competition, or a traumatic event) and then goes away just as naturally, then you do not have depression and do not need to seek treatment for it.
Are there any side effects?
Antidepressants often have certain side effects to be vary of. Some of the common ones are insomnia, irritability, shifts in mood, shifts in appetite, and even an increase in suicidal thoughts in the beginning. You must report all side effects that you may be experiencing to your doctor as they can hint at bigger issues to be addressed. Electro convulsive therapy also has certain side effects. It can lead to confusion and problems with the memory (though memory problems do go away a few months after the treatment is over), headache, jaw pain, nausea, and muscle aches. These can be treated with the help of medicines.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
One of the most important post treatment guidelines for major depressive disorder is to maintain a positive outlook. Though this may sound easier than it is, it is vital to continually monitor and regulate your moods, understand your triggers, and resort to the coping mechanisms you may have learnt in therapy. Another post treatment guideline is to simplify your life and ensure that you face less stress. Even if your work is stressful, your home environment should be calm and peaceful so that your mind is at ease at the end of the day. Finally, it is important to regulate your sleep cycle and your food habits as fluctuations in the same can also lead to depressive feelings. By following the specific post treatment guidelines given to you by your therapist or doctor, you can not only prevent sliding into depression again but also learn how to control it before it gets too bad.
How long does it take to recover?
With most problems related to mental health, the recovery time really depends on the patient. With the constant use of medication, therapy, and other behavioural and lifestyle guidelines that are meant to help the patients, the frequency of the episodes can be largely reduced, and, if possible, eliminated entirely over a period of time. Patients suffering from the same disorder and taking the same medication can have varying recovery periods. In the case of mental health, it can be harmful to expect to get better by a specific time as it leads to undue pressure on the patient, leading to more stress and further problems.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
Most medications that your doctor may prescribe to you can range from Rs 150 – 300 for a single leaf. Medications that are designed for mental health are often more expensive than the ones designed for physical health and it’s a cost that one should be prepared for. The cost of therapy in India ranges from doctor to doctor however, it can fall anywhere from Rs 1,500 – 5,000 per hour, depending on who you are seeing. The cost of electro convulsive therapy ranges from Rs 500 – Rs 1000 per dosage and many private psychiatrists also administer this procedure in India.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
With a positive outlook, the results of the treatment can be permanent however, with most mental health problems, the key is to be continually aware of what you are feeling. It is natural to feel sad occasionally, and that does not mean that your depression is back, however, being able to monitor your emotions and understand where they are coming from can help you prevent them from escalating into major depressive disorder.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
Learning about depression is the first step to treating it with home remedies or any alternate treatments. Some of the commonly used alternate treatments include St John’s Wort, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and SAMe (which is a dietary supplement that helps with depression). Furthermore, herbalists also recommend the use of certain essential oils as they have antidepressant properties. Burning them in a diffuser in your home can really help you manage and control your depression. Some of the oils that you can use are the oils of clary sage, lavender, and myrrh. Practising yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises can also help you stabilise your mood.
- Depression- Medline Plus, Health Topics, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 13 August 2019]. Available from:
- Major depression- Medline Plus, Medical Encyclopedia, NIH, U.S. National Library of Medicine [Internet]. medlineplus.gov 2019 [Cited 13 August 2019]. Available from:
- Depression- Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. merckmanuals.com 2018 [Cited 13 August 2019]. Available from:
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