Depression is one of the most treatable psychiatric disorders. More than 80% of depressed people improve with treatment. Before beginning treatment it is important to get a thorough evaluation to rule out potential causes of depression (i.e., illnesses, medications, alcohol) and to check for the presence of other psychiatric disorders.
The most common types of treatment are psychotherapy and antidepressant medication; often, both are used together. Other treatments include electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and light therapy.
There are more than a dozen medications that are effective for treating depression. Unfortunately, medications tend not to work immediately. Antidepressant medications generally take three to six weeks to become fully effective. If one medication does not work, that does not mean that another medication will not work. Often it is necessary to combine medications to achieve maximum therapeutic effect.
The two psychotherapies that have been the most extensively studied for their effectiveness in treating depression are cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. In cognitive-behavioral therapy the focus is on current behaviors, thoughts and beliefs. In interpersonal therapy the focus is on current relationships.