Different Treatments Used for Major Depressive Disorder, (MDD), Clinical Depression
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Different Treatments Used for Major Depressive Disorder, (MDD), Clinical Depression

A description of the different treatment methods used for serious depression labelled as Major Depressive Disorder, MDD, or Clinical Depression

Major Depressive Disorder, also known as MDD, can be treated in a variety of different ways. Sometimes a single method is used, and at other times a combination may prove beneficial. The main treatments available include medication, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, interpersonal therapy, and in extreme cases electroconvulsive therapy, otherwise referred to as ECT, or electric shock treatment. The treatment utilized for an individual is decided upon based on knowledge about what the cause of depression may be, and which treatment is likely to suit them.


If MDD is thought to stem from neurotransmitter difficulties, such as when the brain chemical serotonin is retrieved back into the system before its worked properly to help make an individual feel good, medication known as Serotonin Selective Reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI’s, are prescribed. The most widely recognized of these are fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, and esitalopram. If MDD sufferers don’t respond favourably to SSRI’s they may be given what’s known as a second line antidepressant such as venlafaxine, mirtazapine, or reboxetine. Third line medications are likely to be TCA’s, also referred to as Tricyclic Antidepressants, such as clomipramine. TCA’s are know to produce undesirable side effects, which is why they are not usually the first choice prescribed. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, also referred to as MAOI’s, can also produce side effects, and so aren't prescribed without due concern. Antidepressants can take up to 8 weeks to fully kick in and work effectively. Likewise, when an individual stops taking antidepressants it can take months for them to fully leave their system. Doctors often prescribe medication in small doses to begin with, and increase dosage if necessary. If one antidepressant doesn't work another may be prescribed. Antidepressants may be taken as a main treatment, or combined with psychotherapy.

Here's an interesting short YouTube film about a different way of thinking about, and treating MDD


Psychotherapy aims to alter the behaviour and self perception of Major Depressive Disorder sufferers. Therapists may work towards increasing an individuals self esteem, use hypnotherapy, and teach them new ways of coping with stressful situations.

Cognitive behavioural therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, helps MDD sufferers alter negative thinking patterns and create positive ones. Therapists help patients alter behaviour patterns also, and improve moods.

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy, or IPT, is similar to cognitive therapy, only it concentrates on helping MDD sufferers alter behaviour patterns relating to relationships.

Electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is associated with memory loss as a possible side effect, which is why it isn't used apart from in extreme cases. Often MDD patients given ECT are considered dangerous. They may have shown signs of wanting to harm themselves or someone else. Electrodes are placed on a patients head, at the sides, or just on one side, and an electric current is passed, causing a seizure. The result can be that neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, begin functioning well. Treatment for major Depressive Disorder often involves trial and error. This may be because individuals who suffer from MDD can be very different to one another when it comes to how effective a treatment may be.

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