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If you are suffering from depression, there are several treatments available. Medications and psychotherapy--either alone or in combination--are the most common forms of treatment. ECT and VNS are generally only administered when other treatments have failed or when medication might endanger the patient's health. Your doctor can help you select the best option for you.
  1. Medications
  2. Counseling and Psychotherapy
  3. Electroconvulsive Therapy
  4. Vagus Nerve Stimulation
  5. Mothers and Their Children


The first-line treatment for depression is an antidepressant, as studies show these drugs help a significant number of people experience complete remission, or at least significant improvement, in their symptoms.

Counseling and Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, often called "talk therapy," is a process whereby a trained psychotherapist uses specialized techniques to the patient with mental illness, behavior problems or personal development. It is thought to be most effective for depression when used in conjunction with medication.

Although "psychotherapy" and "counseling" are often thought of as being the same thing, counseling generally refers to a relatively brief treatment focused mostly on creating behavioral changes.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is often considered to be a treatment of last resort due to its many side effects, such as memory loss. It involves the application of a brief pulse of electricity to the scalp in order to induce a seizure. Patients who might be good candidates for ECT includes those who are severely suicidal and need quick relief, those who have not had success with other treatments and those who cannot take medications for various reasons.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a relatively new treatment, targeted at treatment resistant-depression. It requires the surgical implantation of a device which periodically stimulates the vagus nerve. It is currently approved for this purpose in the U.S., Canada and the European Union.

Mothers and Their Children

Mothers and children will face special treatment issues, especially regarding the safety and effectiveness of particular treatments. Pregnant and breast-feeding women must balance their own mental well-being against the needs of their baby. Mothers also have concerns about whether antidepressants are safe for their older child to use.

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