More than just a temporary feeling of sadness, depression is a brain disorder that can deeply impact every aspect of your life. If you struggle with depression or have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is a prevalent condition in the United States, affecting at least 21 million people or 8.3% of the country’s adult population (18 or older) in 2021.

Depression can be incredibly challenging when you have already tried traditional treatments such as medication and therapy and have not experienced any improvement in your condition. Fortunately, having treatment-resistant depression does not have to mean you will be struggling with it permanently without any relief – depression patients can now benefit from innovative therapies and treatments that can positively impact their condition and reduce the intensity and frequency of depression symptoms.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness, along with a range of physical and psychological symptoms. It is more than just a temporary feeling of sadness; it is a severe medical condition that can interfere with a person’s ability to function day-to-day.

Common symptoms of depression include changes in appetite or weight, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, and lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable. Additionally, depression can also manifest as physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, and stomach aches. Although depression is a serious condition, it is highly treatable, and there are a variety of treatments available that can help those with depression cope with their symptoms and lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Different Types of Depression Disorders

Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, or environmental stressors. It can also be triggered by long-term physical illness or traumatic experiences. There are several different types of depression, including major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is sometimes informally referred to as clinical depression. It is a chronic, reoccurring, and debilitating condition said to affect over 350 million people worldwide. It is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, and a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. Many patients suffering from major depressive disorder are prescribed antidepressants, which often prove to be an ineffective treatment for their condition. In fact, a recent multi step clinical trial demonstrated that only 30% of participants who received the initial antidepressant treatment achieved remission of their MDD symptoms. The symptoms of depression can significantly impact daily life and may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Low energy levels
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Although the exact causes of major depressive disorder are not yet fully understood, MDD is believed to be triggered by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Stressful or traumatic life events, certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and cancer, and a family history of depression are among the factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing major depressive disorder.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, is a type of depression that lasts longer than most forms of depression. It is a less severe yet persistent form of depression that can affect individuals for years – at least one year for adolescents and more than two years for adults. The symptoms of persistent depressive disorder can resemble those of major depression, but they may be less intense and occur for a longer period. Some individuals with persistent depressive disorder can experience fluctuations and go through periods when their symptoms are intense, followed by periods when they can function normally. Symptoms of persistent depressive disorder may include:

  • Persistent low mood
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Similar to major depressive disorder, certain factors can increase the risk of developing persistent depressive disorder, such as stressful life events, family history, and certain medical conditions.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a chronic mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience periods of depression and mania or elevated mood. The symptoms of depression and mania can fluctuate and may occur simultaneously in a mixed episode. While bipolar disorder is a different condition than depression, individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder often experience periods of significant depression. Symptoms of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Depression periods with persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Mania periods with elevated mood, irritability, and inflated self-esteem
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

There are many suspected causes of bipolar disorder. The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still unknown. Still, specialists believe the condition may result from a combination of factors, such as genetic background, family history, and brain structure.

How Can I Deal With Depression?

If you have depression, there are a variety of treatments available to help you manage your symptoms and regain control over your daily life. Many depression patients are prescribed medication and referred to therapy, while others may find that a combination of traditional treatments and integrative treatments offers them the best results.

Traditional Treatments

Traditional treatments for depression often include both medication and therapy. Medication can help to reduce the key symptoms of depression, such as low mood, poor concentration, and lack of energy. Common medications prescribed for depression are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These medications can help to regulate a person’s mood and restore a sense of emotional balance.

Therapy is also a vital part of treating depression. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) can help people become more aware of what may be causing their depression and learn adequate coping strategies. CBT allows individuals to identify and change their negative thought patterns, while IPT helps them learn how to manage their relationships better and communicate effectively.

Integrated Treatments

Unfortunately, traditional methods of treating depression often prove to be ineffective for many people struggling with depression. For example, a recent study confirms that MDD (Major Depression Disorder) may present itself differently in each individual, and traditional pharmaceutical treatments are often ineffective, leading MDD patients to be labeled as challenging to treat. The study suggests a personalized approach is required to better understand the causes behind someone’s depression and the proper treatment plan to address these causes.

Many individuals suffering from MDD or other forms of depression that have been resistant to traditional treatments come to APN seeking a solution to help them regain control of their lives. One of many treatment options offered at APN include ketamine therapy and Deep TMS, which differ from traditional treatments because these options can provide immediate relief and often result in remission of treatment-resistant depression symptoms for several weeks.

Ketamine Therapy

The FDA has recently approved ketamine therapy for the treatment of severe depression in patients who have undergone traditional treatments with no success and are still struggling with disabling symptoms and suicidal thoughts. Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades and produces a variety of effects, such as pain control, disassociation, and euphoria – making it a popular recreational drug. In a clinical setting, the prescription version of ketamine is administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Recent clinical trials concluded that the use of ketamine therapy alongside traditional antidepressant drugs is more effective in delaying relapses, meaning patients who took both antidepressants and underwent ketamine therapy remained stable for longer than those in the placebo group who received only antidepressant drugs.

Deep TMS

Deep TMS stands for Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and it is a novel therapy for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Patients receiving Deep TMS therapy wear a special helmet-like device equipped with H-coils that create magnetic pulses. The pulses reach into areas of the patient’s brain to stimulate neural activity in deeper brain structures in a safe, drug-free, and non-invasive way. Studies have shown that Deep TMS therapy is efficient and safe for patients who are not responding to traditional anti-depression medication, and its positive effects can help a patient remain stable for over three months.

Can Depression Be Cured?

Depression affects millions of adolescents and adults around the world. Yet, specialists cannot pinpoint any single effective therapy or medication to cure it completely. However, while there is no official cure for depression, patients with a variety of depression disorders have experienced significant relief by choosing an integrated treatment approach such as ketamine and Deep TMS.

When traditional therapies fail, integrated treatment alternatives can yield superior outcomes, providing people with immediate relief while improving their long-term progress and helping them get to the root causes of their depression. By adding ketamine therapy, Deep TMS, or other alternative treatments to traditional therapy and medication, even patients with treatment-resistant depression may increase their chances of experiencing more extended periods without symptoms and regain control over their lives.

If you would like to learn more about integrated treatments for depression or are curious about whether Deep TMS or Ketamine therapy is right for you, contact Plus by APN by calling 424.644.6486 or filling out our online contact form.