University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Blue To You
KY Women's Health Registry

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis:

Depression is a complicated disease that is likely the result of a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental and psychological factors. However, even in its most severe forms, depression is a treatable disorder.

The first step is to be evaluated by a qualified doctor who can rule out the possibility that certain mediations or medical conditions, such as a thyroid disorder, could be causing these symptoms. Then the doctor or mental health professional will conduct a complete evaluation, including discussion of severity and duration of symptoms and family history of depression.

Once diagnosed, a person with depression can be treated in a number of ways. The most common treatments are medication and psychotherapy.

Treatment:

The most commonly prescribed antidepressant medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) – such as Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft – and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI) – such as Effexor and Cymbalta. Other classes of antidepressants include tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) – such as Elavil and Desyrel - and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI).

These medications will affect everyone differently and there are often risks, such as headache, nausea, insomnia and nervousness, constipation and sexual problems, that should be addressed with each person. Therefore, it is important to consult a qualified medical professional when considering the use of antidepressant medication.

Patients who take antidepressant medication will often experience relief after three to four weeks of continuous, regular doses. Medication treatment should be carefully monitored by a medical professional and only stopped under his or her advice or supervision in order to prevent a relapse.

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is also an effective means to treat depressive illnesses. The two most common types are cognitive-behavior therapy and interpersonal therapy. Therapists are able to work with a patient to teach them new ways of thinking and behaving by changing negative styles of thinking that may be contributing to depression. Interpersonal therapy helps people to understand and work through troubled relationships that may cause their depression or make it worse.

Research indicates that a combination of medication and talk therapy is often the best method of treating a depressive illness.

Please visit the links above for more age- and gender-specific treatments.

Blue to You

Blue to You was developed through the Health Education through Extension Leadership program made possible by Senator Mitch McConnell with funds earmarked for the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Lexington, KY and budgeted through the CSREES/USDA Federal Administration.