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Psychotherapy and Medication in Treatment of Depression E-mail

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The goal of this website is to give support to people who are feeling depressed and unhappy with their lives. I am living in Europe and English is not my native language, I wish you will excuse me if I make some grammatical errors. I have a background in neuroscience and behavioral sciences and I am currently doing brain research in university in my home country. I decided to write in English because I wish to reach as many people as I can around the world.

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Different roles of psychotherapy and antidepressants in the recovery process

Depression is ultimately caused by reorganization of the structure of neuronal networks in the brain. These structural changes are caused by changes in the concentration of certain crucial neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. In order to heal from depression one must reverse these changes. Sometimes depression is so severe that structural damages have reached the point in which it is very difficult for the brain to repair itself. This is the point when one should consider taking antidepressants to aid the brain to recover. Antidepressants are helping the brain to maintain higher level of crucial neurotransmitters. Slowly the increase in the concentration of these neurotransmitters aids the brain to repair structural damages that are causing depression.

Antidepressants do not eliminate the factors that have caused depression

However, if the factors that have caused depression in a first place are still present in one's life, there is a great risk of relapse. Antidepressants are only helping one to ease anxiety and depressive feelings, they do not remove the ultimate cause of depression. When one stops taking antidepressants, there is a great risk for recurrence of depression. No one should take antidepressants on permanent basis (although there are some medical conditions in which this is necessary, however most people do not belong to this category). Antidepressants should be considered to be an aid, not a solution to problem.

How then can one maintain a healthy level of mood regulating neurotransmitters in one's brain once one has stopped antidepressant treatment? This is where psychotherapy steps in.

Psychotherapy aims to remove the ultimate cause of depression

Psychotherapy is helping one to understand what are the factors that have caused depression in a first place. Many unexpected and unwanted events in life can cause depression. The development of depression can be triggered by an unexpected tragedy in life, such as death of a beloved one, losing a job, divorce etc. Uncertainty of one's future often causes depression.

The aim of psychotherapy is to teach one to adapt new positive ways of viewing one's life instead of letting negative thoughts take control. Depression is often the final consequence of years of negative spiral. Negative thoughts get strengthened and eventually it will be very difficult to break that cycle. Luckily, the same forces that strengthen the neural networks related to negative thoughts can be harnessed to help one to recover from depression. If you teach yourself to think in a positive way instead of seeing things in a negative way, slowly positive way of thinking becomes a norm as the neuronal networks and reward systems in your brain that are related to positive thoughts are being strengthened.

This is why it is crucial to add mental training into one's recovery program. It is not enough to give the brain the tools to fix itself. One also needs to "teach" the brain and show how to fix the damaged networks. As the level of mood altering neurotransmitters increase, new connections are formed in the brain. This repair work is most effective if the new connections are related to positive thoughts rather than to negative thoughts. This way one is helping the brain to build strong fortress to battle future obstacles in life.

Therapist will guide you to the right direction

It is not easy to adapt new ways of thinking. This is why it often is helpful to do this with the help of a professional. A trained psychotherapist is an excellent guide to help you on the path towards recovery. Do not hesitate to contact a therapist if you feel your depression may be the result of negative thoughts that are circulating in your head. I guarantee you will not regret it.

The combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy has been show to be very effective in depression treatment. However, if depression is not severe, it may well be sufficient to go to therapy without taking medication. If depression has already become severe, there is no reason to torment yourself if help is available out there. It is true that antidepressants may have some side effects, but this is typical for many drugs. If your dosage is moderate, you will most likely not even notice significant side effects. And even if you do, the benefit you gain from medication in a form of relief to your anxious and depressed feeling is well worth it.

The key thing is not to continue antidepressant treatment for too long. Antidepressant treatment should be used to aid you to reach the point where your brain can start to heal itself on its own. When you are feeling better and have regained some of your energy, you should put effort into training yourself to think in a new positive way to avoid depression in the future. it takes time to teach the brain and the mind to work in a new way, but in a long run it is definitely worth the trouble.

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To read more, please see sections Depression - General and Depression - Science.


 

 
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    Pick up a phone, speak to someone, ANYONE.... You can be helped, just ask...
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