Health & Wellness Articles

Beat Depression with Determination

Health News Flash

Each year, nearly one in ten American adults suffers from depression. This mental illness can contribute to divorce, decreased productivity, increased sick days, and physical illness (among other problems). The largest study ever done on depression has good news, however.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that 67 percent of patients being treated for depression achieved full remission after completing a series of one to four treatment steps.

For the first step, each patient received the same antidepressant medication. If a patient achieved remission or made substantial improvement in their symptoms, she stayed with that treatment and was monitored closely for a year. If a patient did not experience improvement, they went through the subsequent steps, each involving cognitive therapy or a combination of therapy and medication, with continuous evaluations along the way. Whenever a patient achieved remission or made substantial improvement, they stayed with the treatment that had worked and were monitored closely for another year.

Researchers concluded that remission was most likely to be achieved during the first two steps, and that patients not achieving remission until steps three and four were more likely to experience relapse. Most importantly, they learned that one treatment isn’t right for everyone, but process of trial and error will usually help a patient to find the right fit.

Action Sparked
If you’re suffering from depression, seek help from a health care provider who is trained to handle mental illness, and hang in there! If initial treatments don’t work, try their alternatives until you find one that works for you. Even if it takes a little trial and error, the majority of people with depression will get better if they remain persistent.

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Member Comments

    This is the first email I received upon joining Sparkpeople and based on this article, I almost immediately canceled my subscription. Luckily the comments here gave me hope. Medication? Is this writer serious? What gives her the expertise to push drugs on people who have been depressed for many reasons. Learning to deal with life's challenges, managing your ups and downs with meditation, walking and exercise, eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, banning toxic people and situations from your life as much as possible, and learning strategies to cope with stress are the first steps anyone should take. Followed by working to change the parts of your life that trigger depression, in small step by step increments, finding a GREAT therapist (don't settle for someone who is clearly not helping), and starting to expand your social network, the activities you do, and working on positive thinking (many books and videos out there). If you're an artist or writer, the depression can be a part of not taking the time to have quiet reflection and creative expression. I am always at my lowest when I haven't taken the time to express myself in writing. Start a diary. And don't forget to love yourself. Our thoughts control us. So let's control our thoughts. This is not a cure all. I don't claim to be an expert like the author above. If all that fails and you're in a slump that you cannot get out of - by all means - research with a responsible medical professional, what a short dose of anti-depressants can do for you. There are a lot of drug pushers out there who benefit from making us feel helpless, and using that power to benefit by putting us on medication. Do we really want a future where we're all disconnected from our emotions and living drugged all the time? Our success in this life is not really based on financial achievement, or a dazzling career, but by the way we manage to look after ourselves and be our best selves by our own estimation, not others. By empowering ourselves. Being our own best friend. If you have clini...
  • From the time I was a small child, my family members have suffered with depression. I started telling myself "NO Depression is not for me." I guess it worked because I have never been diagnosed with Depression or any other mental disorder. Now it could be I have good genes or that it started with the above statement of a promise I made to myself all those years ago not to be depressed, anytime, anywhere, about anything ever.
  • What are the four steps? This is it? I was expecting more from this article.
  • I read the article and have suffered from depression since I was a child I am almost 60. I am on medication which does help but still I am fighting it every day. I wish I lived where I had more sun since that does help. The first thing I do in the morning is get dressed so I can face the day. Then I try to find a way to be busy where I don't think about how I feel. I quilt, teach sewing, knit, clean house, visit friends etc. So hang in there but know that you will always have it you just need a pro active approach to dealing with it.
  • I have clinical depression and medication has been very helpful for me. Exercise can give me a short-lived natural "high", but it's never kept my depression away. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was good, but it was so hard to get appointments with my doctor that I just stopped going.

    I don't want to leave a negative comment, but this article was very unhelpful. The first step goes into very little detail and the remaining steps are completely skimmed over. Very disappointing.
  • This sends a poor message. They STARTED the depressed people in the study on medication. Isn't that supposed to be the last resort? Antidepressants- and more specifically antipyschotic medication- are the most commonly prescribed medications today, for ANY condition. Speaking as someone who just spent the last four months getting of of meds, they aren't a cure all. They're prescribed to those who don't need them, their success is limited, and they cause far more problems than they solve. Please be weary of these medications, especially with your children as antipsychotics have now been approved for five-year-old children.

    I'm sure there are many people who have been helped by medication but all other treatment options should be explored first. Although I don't think five-year-olds should be on them either way.

  • This article is absolutely insane. The writer casually mentions a study, but does not provide a source for this information so that others can verfiy her interpretation. Why do the people on this site write medical articles mentioning studies but not cite the study or the peer-reviewed published article that was referred to in the study? Why are sources so difficult for the people at SparkPeople that write articles?

    The writer also uses the term 'depression' which isn't a very clear descriptive term. Is she referring to unipolar depression, bipolar depression, major depressive disorder, a depressive episode? Using the term 'depression' in this way is like writing an article about a sandwich and never explaining if you are referring to a hot sandwich, a cold sandwich, an open faced sandwich, a sub sandwich, a hogie, oir a wrap!

    This level of vagueness is pervasive throughout SparkPeople. You would think they would get people that actually know what they are talking about to write articles so that they are clear and can be fully understood!
  • It has now been determined that 95% of the body's serotonin is housed in the gut, not the brain. Pushing meds instead of a healthy diet and exercise is just wrong. There are too many people relying on meds and for many of those people, the meds just simple don't work and have horrible side affects.
    For some of you exercise may be the best way to help with it. I however suffer from clinical depression. Even exercise don't lift my mood. For some of you who are med free that is all and good. I don't have this option because mine is neither situational or fixed with exercise.
  • What about the HUGE benefits of exercise to those of us with depression?

    Also, depression meds such as SSRIs have not been tested for long term use. Any "solution" that requires indefinite use is not a solution, to me.

    I found that in my experience, selfishness, unforgiveness, and unwillingness to apologize for wrongs I've done to others led to depression. Oh yeah, also having no spiritual component to life.

    After being diagnosed with 4 major disorders, I am now med-free for 5 years!

    In the early 90's, depression and anxiety found me in the middle of a health crisis, but I think it had been building for a while. I tend to internalize and analyze; so, physical malady tipped me over the edge. Being a spirit-filled believer, I sought counsel as to what to do. My pastor and a Christian psychologist told me to seek the help of a physician (drugs) in order to re-balance the chemicals in my body. I was surprised at that. My life's goal is to never be on any drugs, but I did it and it helped. When I leveled out and took some classes on coping with outbreaks of stress, etc., I searched for natural supplements and ways to keep me balanced. Today, I have a normal life, drug-free. I stay close to my faith in God, try to eat right, take whole-food vitamins and supplements, exercise a little and obey the warning signs of yielding to stressful situations. I remind myself to smile, live in the moment with friends and family, enjoy laughing and being happy that I'm not tired, stressed and depressed. I am enjoying life and pursuing my love of writing. During the bad times, my husband, though he didn't understand depression, was a sounding board for me, keeping the communication lines flowing. Somehow talking about the fear always released pressure. It still does. I also had a friend who came, prayed and counseled me when I called. Because surviving emotional sickness takes more than a pill, it takes the right attitude towards life's stresses to climb the ladder to wellness, and determine to stay there! Honesty and openness with friends and family, and my faith in God, are mandatory in my life. I want to continue to be "who I am supposed to be" for God, for me and for others.
    I have been treating depression on my own because I fear getting on meds because of the side effects and lack of duration that it helps. Just like Laydog said. I have heard that people feel worse if they go off meds than before they started. I live in the north so I think some is lack of sun and vit D. I tried that last winter and it did help.
  • I've learned that regular exersize helps keep me from getting depressed. If I go several days without exersizing, my mood hits rock bottom. It's so hard, though, to exersize when I'm depressed!
  • I was 1st hospitalized in 1991,then 1994,2003,2003.I have been on 33 different meds and countless supplements. I am Bi-polar. Thus far noting has ever helped me. ECT did not help. I keep praying and know that God will help me in his time. Right now the depression is very bad.(4-months now)
  • I have been fighting depression for many years and have found that medication alone is NOT the answer. One very important part of feeling healthy is to have someone to talk to when things get tough. Having lots of support is very important and a big key to helping in contolling of depression

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

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