Beat Depression with Determination

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

I have read better articles. Report
This author isn't pushing meds, merely mentioning a study that points to the possibility of remission for depression sufferers. For most illnesses, a combination of medication and behavioral therapy is the preferred treatment, such as diabetes, arthritis, etc. Why should depression be treated any differently? I think what the author is trying to convey is that if you're suffering with depression, don't give up, work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that's right for you and stick with it. We could use more positive news about mental illnesses in this country, and less stigma surrounding seeking treatment of any kind. Report
As I re-read this article I realized that it really does not present any information. Report
This article is laughable and ridiculous. Thumbs down, SparkPeople, for posting an article that doesn't have much content and is unhelpful. This is an article that's kinda like when you're doing you're thing, minding your own business, and someone walks past you and says, "Smile!"...and you're like, should I hit you with a right hook, or a left jab? Report
I do not believe this writer has any experience in depression. It's a horrible experience. Report
I cannot speak for everyone, but those members of my family who had depression and were medicated got WORSE, not better, and three committed suicide. If at all possible, I will NEVER take prescription drugs, period - unless I'm diabetic or have heart disease or MS something very serious and there are NO other options to survive. Prescriptions KILL! I don't believe doctors should mess around with patients' brain chemistry. Everyone is different and it's IMPOSSIBLE to know how a particular medication and/or dosage might affect them. My mother was treated like a "guinea pig" ( try one in the morning and one at night then. That didn't work? Cut one in half and take half at night and half before bed...and so on. She ended up dying at 57 anyway (congestive heart failure). We need to get OFF drugs unless they are ABSOLUTELY necessary I can't even think of ONE person with mental health challenges that were better off with meds. You might know differently, but I sure don't and I know many, many people who are taking prescriptions for depression and other emotional and mental afflictions. I also have several family members who are hopelessly addicted to painkillers originally prescribed by doctors whom they trusted. So expensive too! NO WAY! Too many people I know take something for depression, something for anxiety, something for pain, something to help them sleep...on and on and on - thousands of dollars per year co-pays alone! Ever hear the disclaimers on television? It's shocking. Things like "may cause pancreatitis requiring hospitalization, possibly resulting in death". Things like that. "Suicidal thoughts or actions?" This is an antidepressant disclaimer! I don't even take over the counter pain meds except in extreme circumstances. It's almost like a phobia for me and I certainly don't judge anyone who takes prescriptions for whatever reason - I just basically worry about them. I truly believe that I am still alive today (age 59.5) because I REFUSED to take prescription drugs for my depression. I am managing it on my own and I'm improving d... Report
For those people who can just exercise their depression away, well done and consider yourself lucky! I, unfortunately, am not one you! I thank my God for medication that keeps me out of bed for days and months on end. Report
Been there. Done that. Not going there again. Report
I agree with the other posters who have concerns about the safety of the medication. These drugs can cause suicidal ideation, which means they make you start thinking about killing yourself. Many people who were not suicidal before taking antidepressants became suicidal and have even killed themselves. It's one of the most common side effects. So it is safer to begin with the talk therapy, and mindfulness techniques. One reason it's not good to risk the suicidal thoughts is that when you have them, you are going to want to keep them to yourself, and you are going to want to do this, to kill yourself. So there is no guarantee that you will be in your right mind at this point and tell the doctor about what's going on, since it's so hard to do, you have to first tell yourself that it's wrong, but you may not know that anymore. Please beware of Prozac and the other drugs like them! Go on the lowest dose that you can, if you need to take any, temporarily or whatever. Try not to stay on it very long. Seek alternatives! Report
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... Report
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. Report
What are the four steps? This is it? I was expecting more from this article. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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.



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.