The symptoms of depression can be treated in different ways. Different types of depression require different depression treatments. Sometimes a combination of 2 or more treatments is needed.

The guidelines from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of
Psychiatrists recommend a step-wise approach to the management of depression:

Step 0
  • Stop taking any substances that can affect mood
  • Introduce lifestyle changes such as improving sleep routine, quitting smoking, increasing exercise and eating a healthy diet
Step 1
  • Psychosocial interventions (e.g. education, support groups)
  • Psychological therapy
  • Medication
No response to at least 2 antidepressants
Step 2
  • Combine antidepressants
  • Augment antidepressants
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
Step 3
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Key interventions used to treat depression

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) or psychological treatment for depression

Cognitive behaviour therapy or CBT is one type of psychological treatment of depression. It involves working with a therapist to identify thoughts that make you depressed or that stop you from getting better. With CBT you can learn to change negative thoughts and reactions to more positive ones.

Depression medication

Antidepressants are the main type of depression medication. Antidepressants increase the amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps the brain to send and receive signals. There are different types of antidepressants and they are generally similar in how effective they are at relieving depression. It is important to understand that people respond differently to depression medication, and that each type of depression medication has different side effects.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulations (TMS)

By stimulating the prefrontal cortex of the brain, TMS can alleviate depression symptoms and allow people to feel more positive and motivated. It is a non-invasive and safe procedure with mild side effects. In Australia TMS is approved to treat depression in people who have already tried two or more different depression medications.

For these treatment-resistant patients, TMS is their next best chance of relieving depressive symptoms.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is where electric currents are passed through the brain. These currents affect the brain’s activity and help to relieve depression symptoms. ECT is an invasive procedure and can result in short-term memory loss. It is mostly used to treat severe forms of depression.

TMS is a highly targeted therapy and as a result has very low side effects associated with its use to treat depression.