Treatment of Depression

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

The treatment approach to depression usually involves prescribing a combination of medication and counselling, behavioural therapy or support group therapy. A general outline for treating different degrees of depressive illness is given below:

  • Mild depression - In cases of mild depression, the patient is usually advised to adhere to a healthy, balanced diet, regular physical exercise and stress relief techniques such as meditation. They are then monitored by their physician every two weeks to assess progress. Cognitive behavioural therapy and self-help therapy may be recommended in some cases.
  • Mild-to-moderate depression - If mild depression fails to improve with the above measures, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy is prescribed.
  • Severe depression - Moderate depression that fails to respond to therapy is treated with medication. There are several types of antidepressants that can be prescribed but individuals who do not respond to any of those treatments may be given electroconvulsive therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy works by changing the way a person thinks in order to adjust their behaviour. Unlike with other forms of talking therapy, the patient's past is not the focus of cognitive behavioural therapy but rather their attitudes and behaviour that manifest on a day-to-day basis. Daily obstacles that arise are analyzed one by one and the behavioural response to them broken down and tackled individually.

Usually, six to eight sessions over a ten to twelve week period are needed. One-to-one sessions are preferred but sometimes group therapy may be arranged.

Other forms of psychotherapy

Another form of talking therapy that may be used to treat depression is interpersonal therapy, which focuses on relationship problems. Counselling is also commonly prescribed and helps a person cope with life changing events in a more positive manner.


Antidepressants prescribed to treat moderate-to-severe depression can cause side effects but are generally safe and may be used for years in some cases without causing dependency. The effect of an antidepressant is evaluated every six to eight weeks. Some examples of antidepressants are:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors - This drug class is one of the most commonly used for treating depression and includes fluoxetine, paroxetine and escitalopram. For those aged under 18 years, only fluoxetine may be safely used.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants - These are the more traditional antidepressants used for treating moderate-to-severe depression but they cause more severe side effects than more recent agents. Drugs of this class include amitriptyline and imipramine.
  • A more recent class of antidepressants is the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and examples include venlafaxine, mirtazapine and duloxetine.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Severe non-retractable depression may sometimes be treated with electroconvulsive therapy which involves an electric shock being applied using electrodes placed over the head. The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthesia twice a week for 3 to 6 weeks..

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jan 20, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, January 20). Treatment of Depression. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 28, 2024 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Treatment of Depression". News-Medical. 28 May 2024. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Treatment of Depression". News-Medical. (accessed May 28, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Treatment of Depression. News-Medical, viewed 28 May 2024,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Study confirms the mental health benefits of weight training for older individuals