Depression - Treatments
How is depression treated?
The first step to getting treatment is to see your GP. If your GP thinks you have depression, they will talk to you about the treatments they can offer.
Talking therapy is available on the NHS, from private healthcare providers and sometimes from charities. You will meet a trained therapist for a fixed number of sessions. Sometimes this will be with a group of people with depression.
There are different types of talking therapy. According to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapies for depression. It should normally be available in your area.
Therapies may have different levels based on how long or intense the treatment is. The level of therapy you get will depend on your symptoms.
When you finish treatment your doctor may suggestion Mindfulness Based CBT (MCBT) which can be helpful if your depression comes back.
Other common talking therapies include:
- psychodynamic therapy,
- problem-solving therapy,
- interpersonal therapy,
- behaviour activation,
- mindfulness based therapy
- interpersonal therapy, and
Ask your GP about therapy if you are interested. Not all of these therapies will be available on the NHS in your area.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that may be as helpful as CBT for treating anxiety and depression.
Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT)
Computerised cognitive behavioural therapy (cCBT) is one way of treating mild to moderate depression. You learn CBT techniques online using a computer. You will go through the same type of session as you would if you were with a therapist. It can be helpful after you have finished talking therapies to stop your symptoms coming back.
'Beating the Blues' is one of the cCBT programmes you can get. They are free but you need to talk to your GP about it.
Your doctor might offer you an antidepressant. You may need to try different types before you find one that works for you. If you do not want to take antidepressants, tell your doctor and you can discuss other options.
Antidepressants can have side effects and can affect other medicines you are taking. Your doctor will check if you have physical health conditions or if you take other medication.
It is important to talk to your doctor before you stop taking medication, because stopping suddenly can cause problems.
Having good physical health and exercising can help with depression. Some GP surgeries will put you in touch with local exercise schemes. These might sometimes be called 'exercise on prescription'. See the ‘What causes depression’.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a procedure sometimes used to treat severe depression. In this treatment, an electrical current is briefly passed through your brain while you are under general anaesthetic which means you are not awake during the procedure. You should only have ECT if you have very bad depression and your life may be at risk or no other treatments have worked.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
TMS involves using magnetic fields to try to change the way the brain works. Scientists think that this could help people with depression and does not cause any major safety concerns.
Complementary or Alternative Therapies
Complementary therapies are treatments which are not part of mainstream medical care. They can include aromatherapy, herbal remedies, acupuncture, massage, meditation and yoga. These treatments may help improve your emotional wellbeing and may help with side effects.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays