Depression, even the most severe cases, is a highly treatable disorder. As with many illnesses, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is and the greater the likelihood that recurrence can be prevented.
Appropriate treatment for depression starts with a physical examination by a physician. Certain medications, as well as some medical conditions such as viral infections or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same symptoms as depression and should be ruled out. The doctor should ask about alcohol and drug use, and whether the patient has thoughts about death or suicide.
Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated a number of ways. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy. Many studies show that cognitive behavioral psychotherapy is highly effective, alone or in combination with drug therapy. Psychotherapy addresses the thinking patterns that precipitate depression, and studies show that it prevents recurrence. Drug therapy is often helpful in relieving symptoms, such as severe anxiety, so that people can engage in meaningful psychotherapy.
In addition, physical exercise is important way to combat depression. Because depression demotivates people, it could be very helpfull for a family member or friend to regularly take their depressed loved one out for walks. Social contact is also valuable as a way to combat the feelings of isolation that afflict the depressed.