Medically reviewed by Susan Vachon, PA-C on February 4, 2022
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut way to treat depression. It’s different for everyone, meaning what works for one person might do nothing for another. For most people, a mix of treatments provides the best results.
But how do you know which types of depression treatment are right for you? Rather than randomly guessing what you should try, use this guide to find the right treatments for your symptoms.
Tell Your medical professional About Your Symptoms and Health Conditions
Your first step in getting depression treatment should always be to consult with a medical professional. Depression is a serious condition, so you should never try to figure it out on your own. Additionally, many treatments require a prescription or referral from a medical professional, so you might not have access to them without a consultation.
Nurx offers prescription treatment for anxiety and depression for as little as $0 in copays or $25 per month without insurance.
At this consultation, your medical professional will ask about your symptoms. It’s important to answer honestly and clearly, as the types of symptoms you’re experiencing can change the type of treatment you get.
As an example, if you have insomnia and can’t fall asleep at night, your medical professional may recommend an antidepressant with slightly sedating effects. Or, if you’ve been losing weight because you have no appetite, your medical professional might choose an antidepressant that has a side effect of weight gain.
You also need to tell your medical professional about any other health conditions you have. Not all types of antidepressants play nice with other medical problems. As an example, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) should not be used in people with bleeding disorders because they can increase your risk of bleeding.
On the flip side, some antidepressants can actually treat two conditions at once. For example, if you also want to stop smoking, your medical professional may prescribe bupropion. These are all things your medical professional can figure out during a consultation.
Consider Genetic Testing
Pharmacogenomics is the study of how your DNA affects your response to specific medications. It’s still a relatively new field, and in practice, it’s only used for a few types of drugs. However, as more and more research is being done on the pharmacogenomics of antidepressants, this could be a great way to get personalized medications that have a better chance of working.
In regard to genetic testing for antidepressants, the test won’t be able to tell exactly which drug is best for you. It’s not specific enough to know exactly how well a drug will treat your depression. However, it can reveal clues for how quickly your body may process a drug and whether or not you’re at risk for side effects. This information can influence what drug your medical professional prescribes.
Because genetic testing isn’t commonplace yet, it can be expensive. You may have to pay up to $2,000. And in many cases, insurance companies won’t foot the bill until you’ve already tried out a few antidepressants first — which ultimately defeats the purpose. Still, it’s worth exploring if you want to skip some of the trial and error that comes with treating depression.
Think About Cost
It’s unfortunate, but in the United States, not everyone has access to affordable healthcare. Even people with insurance coverage may find they need to pay hundreds or thousands out of pocket for their treatments. Because of that, the cost can play a big role in the type of treatment you choose.
In particular, some antidepressants don’t have generic forms available, meaning your only option is the more expensive brand name variation. If you’re worried about cost, you can let your medical professional know, and they can prescribe an alternative medication that may be cheaper.
Therapy can also get expensive if you have to pay a copay for every visit. If your copay is too much, see if you can work out a deal with the therapist where they let you pay the uninsured rate — sometimes, it’s cheaper. You may also consider virtual or online therapy, which can be more affordable than an in-person visit.
Take Note of Side Effects
Some depression treatments have side effects that can be more uncomfortable than your initial symptoms. It’s important to be on the lookout for these types of things. If you experience side effects with your medication, talk to your provider about whether you may need to make changes to your treatment plan.
For example, some antidepressants can cause you to have a lower sex drive or gain weight. These can interfere with your life and make you reluctant to take your pills regularly. Even if your symptoms are getting better, if side effects are affecting your quality of life, it may be worth exploring to see if there is a better treatment out there for you.
Look Into Additional Treatments
Antidepressants are just one tool in your depression treatment toolbox. Using medication on its own generally isn’t as effective as combining lifestyle changes and therapy as well. This means you’ll want to look into an integrated approach when it comes to your treatment regimen.
Therapy is likely something you’ll want to include, along with eating better, working out more regularly, and increasing your water consumption. Reducing stress, sleeping eight hours a night, and staying away from drugs and alcohol can also have positive impacts.
It can be hard to know exactly which of these methods is helping, so try to track your symptoms any time you add a new lifestyle change. Keeping a journal of how you feel can help you see the progress of your changes and also help you track their timelines. For example, research shows that changing your diet and working out more can take a few weeks to several months to have verifiable effects on depressive symptoms.
Go With Whatever Works Best
At the end of the day, the best way to know if a depression treatment is right for you is the abatement of your symptoms. Does what you’re doing help you feel better? Then keep doing it! Whether you’re taking an antidepressant, going to therapy, or using a mix of these, it’s important to go with whatever works best for you.
This blog provides information about telemedicine, health and related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes.