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When you’re depressed, it can feel like you’ll never get out from under a dark shadow. However, even the most severe depression is treatable. So, if your depression is keeping you from living the life you want to, don’t hesitate to seek help. From therapy to medication to healthy lifestyle changes, there are many different treatment options available.


If you are diagnosed with major depression, the first-line treatment that your doctor will give you is medications. Nowadays, many types of antidepressants are available, be sure to discuss possible major side effects with your doctor or pharmacist.


At the bottom layer of this pyramid is Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - Doctors often start by prescribing an SSRI drug. These drugs are considered safer and generally cause fewer bothersome side effects than other types of antidepressants.


Some common SSRI drug in the market, all of these drugs need prescription:

  • Citalopram (Celexa)

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Vilazodone (Viibryd)



On the middle layer is Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), is another type of drugs that are commonly prescribed to the patients with depression, all of these drugs need prescription:

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

  • Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)

  • Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq, Khedezla)

  • Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)



On the top layer of the pyramid, there are multiple other types of drugs that may help with the patients with depression, but often come with serious and more harmful side effects – therefore, they are sometimes prescribed as second-line or even third-line drug treatment, when the first/second line treatments are not working well on some patients. These drugs include:

  • Atypical antidepressants

  • Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

  • Other combinations such as mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. Anti-anxiety and stimulant medications also may be added for short-term use.

Companion diagnostics for drugs

Meanwhile, finding the right anti-depression medication is important. If a family member has responded well to an antidepressant, it may be one that could help you. Or you may need to try several medications or a combination of medications before you find one that works. This requires patience, as some medications need several weeks or longer to take full effect and for side effects to ease as your body adjusts.


Inherited traits play a role in how antidepressants affect you. In some cases, where available, results of genetic tests (done by a blood test or cheek swab) may offer clues about how your body may respond to a particular antidepressant. However, other variables besides genetics can affect your response to medication.

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Psychotherapy is a general term for treating depression by talking about your condition and related issues with a mental health professional, also known as talk therapy or psychological therapy. Different types of psychotherapy can be effective for depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy.

Formats for depression therapy as an alternative to face-to-face office sessions have become popular and may be an effective option for many people. Therapy can be provided as a computer program, by online sessions, or videos/workbooks. Programs can be guided by a therapist (partially or totally independent).


Before you choose one, discuss these formats with your therapist to determine if they may be helpful for you. Also, ask your therapist for recommendation of a trusted source or program – some may not be covered by your insurance and not all developers and online therapists have the proper credentials or training.

Brain stimulation therapies

Technologies from brain stimulation therapies may also be helpful, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). These will come in play when someone cannot take antidepressants or these drugs don’t work.

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Telehealth Solution

Although currently, smartphones and tablets that offer mobile health apps (such as support and general education about depression) are not a substitute for seeing your doctor or therapist. There are still many options for seeking online help (education, CBT training etc.) and get connected with healthcare professionals to help you with depression:

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