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Top 4 Depression Treatments


Updated June 03, 2014

Information about the types of depression treatments which are available to you.

1. Medications

The first-line treatment for depression is an antidepressant. In the STAR*D study, which assessed the effectiveness of depression treatment, about one-third of patients achieved complete remission of their symptoms with the first antidepressant they were given, while another 10 to 15 percent experienced at least a 50 percent improvement in their symptoms. As treatment levels were added, such as switching medications or adding an additional medication, remission rates increased. Seventy percent of those who stuck with the study until the fourth level of treatment became symptom-free.

2. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is often called "talk therapy" because it involves the patient and the psychotherapist sitting in a room talking. However, psychotherapy is more than just casual chatting. Psychotherapists are trained in techniques which can help the patient with mental illness, behavior issues or personal growth.

Psychotherapy in conjunction with medication is considering to be the most effective treatment for depression.

3. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a type of treatment for depression which involves applying a short pulse of electricity to the scalp in order to cause a seizure. It is generally only used when other treatments have failed, medications might endanger the patient or fast results are needed.

4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) uses an implanted device to provide periodic stimulation to the vagus nerve. It is approved in the United States, Canada and the European Union for treatment-resistant depression.


Rush A.J., et.al. "Acute and Longer-term Outcomes in Depressed Outpatients Who Required One or Several Treatment Steps: A STAR*D Report." American Journal of Psychiatry 163.11 (2006): 1905-17.
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