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What Is a Depression Treatment Plan?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A depression treatment plan is a course of action developed by a therapist and client that includes different types of therapies that target depression. The types of therapy chosen are designed around what works best for the patient. A well-developed depression treatment plan will address the underlying cause of depression as well as the symptoms. Talk therapy and antidepressant medications are likely to be the primary therapies. Secondary or supplementary treatments may include homework assignments such as journaling and developing healthy lifestyle habits like diet, exercise, and integrating an emotional support pet or animal into the routine.

Talk therapy is usually included in a depression treatment plan. There are many different forms of talk therapy that can be effectively utilized to treat symptoms of depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy, and many others have been shown to treat depression and help prevent recurrences of this disorder from coming about. Talk therapy will be done in the therapist's office and may be as frequent as three times per week or as infrequent as bi-monthly. Typical treatment plans include frequent appointments in the beginning, and as progress is made, the frequency is lessened.

Antidepressant medications may also be a part of a depression treatment plan. These drugs are enough to treat depression in some cases, but they have been shown to be most effective when paired with talk therapy sessions. Depression is most often caused by a situation in the person's life that he or she feels helpless to change, and drugs can't address this cause; they can only treat symptoms. There are dozens of prescription antidepressant medications on the market. Commonly prescribed antidepressants include Lexapro®, Prozac®, and Wellbutrin®.

Homework assignments are often included in a comprehensive depression treatment plan. These types of assignments tend to be specific to the client's life and personal struggles. An example may be to initiate conversation with someone the client is in a troubled relationship with, or it could be as simple as joining a class of some sort to include more enjoyable activities in the person's life. Journaling is another common homework assignment that can bring the client in touch with his or her innermost thoughts and feelings. Dream journals are also popular, as they provide a window into the unconscious processing of the client's life.

Healthy lifestyle changes are also included in most depression treatment plans. This is considered a supplemental treatment because it is not enough to cure depression, but it can have a significant effect on easing symptoms. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping enough every night can relieve many of the symptoms of depression. The mind-body connection is much stronger than most people think, and the way a person treats his or her body will have a real impact on thinking and emotional health.

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