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Best Depression Treatments in 2023


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What works best to treat depression in 2023?

Finding a depression treatment that works is often a result of trial-and-error. Rarely does the first method work, or if it does, the effect lessens over time, forcing depression sufferers to find another treatment.

Depression is a complex disease. No one treatment is guaranteed to work for every patient. This often leaves patients on their own to find the treatment that works best for them. If you’re feeling frustrated that you haven’t found the right depression treatment yet – don’t give up hope! Here is a guide to help you understand the differences between therapy, antidepressant medication, and ketamine treatment for depression.

Psychotherapy for Depression Treatment

People looking to treat depression through therapy have multiple options available. It may take a few tries to find the therapy method that works best for you, so don’t be afraid to try several options. Here are some of the most popular therapy methods for treating depression:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT operates on the premise that negative thought patterns and negative learned behavior lie at the root cause of depression and other disorders. CBT attempts to identify and change these negative thought patterns and behaviors, thereby eliminating the associated depression. During CBT, patients work with a therapist to examine thoughts, patterns, and motives as a means to understand and change their negative behavior.

Group therapy

Group therapy can be participated in along with individual therapy sessions or could be an option by itself. Joining a support group of other people who are also battling depression can help to provide a sense of community and shared experience. As group members share, it can help you learn more about your condition and healthy coping strategies. Group therapy for depression is often facilitated by a therapist and may be held in their office.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOP programs provide a highly structured, intense therapy experience. IOP is a mix of individual and group therapy and seeks to replicate the experience of inpatient treatment but in an outpatient setting. The time commitment for IOP can be high, with programs typically requiring 8-12 hours per week over 8-12 weeks. IOP often appeals to patients looking for more rapid change than traditional therapy can provide.

Is therapy the best depression treatment?

Therapy has both strengths and limitations. It can be an effective treatment for depression and does not introduce negative side effects, as can happen with antidepressants. The drawbacks of therapy are that it can take a very long time (months or years) to make progress, can be expensive, and is highly variable depending on the skill of the therapist and the patient’s relationship with the therapist. Patients looking for more immediate relief from depression are better served by other options, such as ketamine (see below).

Antidepressant medication

According to the CDC, antidepressants are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in America. (Source)

Antidepressants are widely used, but how well do antidepressants work to treat depression?

The STAR*D trial is the best research available on the efficacy of antidepressants. It is the largest and longest study to examine depression treatment with antidepressants. The methodology of the STAR*D trial was designed to mimic the real-world experience of patients who are prescribed antidepressants.

After the first antidepressant attempt, patients who did not achieve adequate relief were moved on to the next stage of the trial. Those who found adequate relief at each level did not move on to subsequent stages. This mirrors the real-world experience of patients. The study contained a total of four levels.

National Institute of Mental Health summarizing findings of Star-D

How Effective are Antidepressants at Treating Depression?

At Level One of the STAR*D trial (first antidepressant tried), only about one third of all patients achieved remission from depression, meaning there is roughly a 33 percent chance a patient will find adequate relief from depression with the first antidepressant. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: two-thirds of patients will not find adequate relief from their first antidepressant.

How Long Do Antidepressants Take to Work?

The STAR*D trial also provided valuable information on how long it takes for antidepressants to work. For patients who did achieve adequate relief from an antidepressant, it took an average of six weeks for a patient to reach a response (partial alleviation of symptoms) and seven weeks to achieve a remission of depressive symptoms.

How Effective Is a Second Antidepressant?

In the trial, patients who did not find relief from the first antidepressant then moved to level two of the trial and tried a different antidepressant. At level two, about 25 percent of patients achieved remission, meaning that 42 percent of the original trial group had not achieved remission from depression from either the first or second antidepressants tried.

After two unsuccessful antidepressant attempts, patients are diagnosed as having treatment-resistant depression. For treatment resistant patients, the STAR*D trial also showed that each additional medication attempt is much less likely to be successful than the previous attempt.

Are antidepressants the best depression treatment?

Based on the findings from the STAR*D trial, if your depression is not well-controlled with the first or second antidepressant you try, you are better off trying other treatment options rather than continuing to try different antidepressants. In addition, patients who experience unwanted side effects from taking antidepressants, or patients who simply do not want to continue taking antidepressants, are better served with other treatment options, such as ketamine treatment.

Ketamine treatment

Ketamine has been shown in multiple clinical studies to rapidly reduce depression. In fact, ketamine has the fastest time to result of any depression treatment – faster than therapy or antidepressant medication. If you are looking for a quick way to reduce depression, ketamine is your best bet.

Ketamine’s remarkable result is due, in part, to its rapid increase of neuroplasticity in areas of the brain responsible for mood and behavior. (Source)

The neuroplasticity window is a period of time during which the brain is more receptive to changes. During this window, the brain is more adaptable and able to form new, healthy neural pathways. This neuroplasticity window provides the ideal brain environment to make rapid progress and achieve a long-lasting state of stable mental health.

Ketamine also makes other depression treatments more effective. Receiving ketamine treatment can provide a much-needed window of relief from overwhelming depression. Patients find the mental health boost from ketamine carries over to other life areas, including boosting other mental health treatments, such as medication or therapy.

Is Ketamine the Best Depression Treatment?

Patients looking for rapid relief from depression will not find a better treatment option. Also, patients who do not want to commit a large amount of time to treatment (6 sessions for ketamine vs. dozens or hundreds of therapy sessions) will find ketamine treatment to be an appealing option.

Which Depression Treatment Is Best For You?

Selecting the right depression treatment can mean the difference between finally conquering depression or continuing to suffer with inadequate relief. While psychotherapy and antidepressant medications can both be effective, patients should consider ketamine treatment for depression relief. Patients who do not find relief from other treatments, patients searching for a non-pharmaceutical treatment approach, or patients who want rapid depression relief should choose ketamine treatment as their first choice for depression treatment.

Depression Treatment That Works in Los Angeles

Limbic Medical combines ketamine treatment for depression with functional medicine treatment for depression, helping patients incorporate both treatments for faster, more effective relief from depression. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD or chronic pain, contact Limbic Medical to receive a full diagnosis and treatment plan. Call Limbic Medical at 323.886.2273 or schedule an appointment today.