SSRIs and Other Depression Treatments: A Simple Guide

A complex illness, depression has many different treatment options. Some patients may go to therapy as one form of treatment, while others may require several treatments at once, such as a combination of therapy and medication. Here’s a simple guide on several common options for depression, to help you gain a better idea of which one most suits your teen.

Therapy

A patient may attend regular therapy sessions in order to sort through the psychological causes of their depression. There are many different types of therapy, including talk therapy, equine therapy and wilderness therapy.

  • Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, is the most common form of therapy. Speaking to a mental health professional, the patient shares their painful feelings and memories in order to help them feel better in the long run. Suitable for teens who prefer: expressing their thoughts out loud.
  • Equine therapy combines traditional therapy with activities involving horses to promote emotional growth and stability in patients. Suitable for teens who prefer: a hands-on approach and enjoys spending time with animals will most benefit from this treatment.
  • Wilderness therapy uses wilderness expeditions for the purpose of therapeutic intervention. Suitable for teens who prefer: spending time outdoors and engaging in nature-based activities.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

Commonly prescribed antidepressants, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) block the receptor in the brain that reabsorbs serotonin in order to make more serotonin available to send messages between brain cells. Although many people find SSRIs to be an effective form of treatment, some people experience negative side effects (such as nausea and insomnia) while others find that SSRIs don’t help alleviate their symptoms of depression. Common SSRIs include Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.

Herbal Supplements

You may want to consider alternative treatments such as herbal supplements. Although there is no conclusive evidence that herbal supplements are effective at treating moderate to severe depression, some medical research has found that herbal supplements such as St. John’s Wort can help treat milder forms of depression. Other natural supplements that may be effective in treating mild depression include omega-3 fatty acids, 5-HTP (an amino acid byproduct) and SAMe (a naturally occurring molecule in the human body). Many people use supplements as a form of treatment alongside SSRIs.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

A non-invasive and ongoing method of brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is used to treat depression in people who don’t respond to SSRIs. An electromagnetic coil is placed over the scalp; the coil generates gentle pulses that pass through the skull and into the section of the brain that controls mood. Side effects may include headaches, scalp discomfort and lightheadedness.

There are many different treatment options available for teens who are suffering from depression, depending on their circumstances. If you think your teen may have depression, contact your family physician. Your doctor can work with you and your teen to create an effective treatment plan that suits your teen’s needs and preferences.

Feature Photo: Peter Lobozzo