Treatments for depression

Treating depression is really important to help get things back on track. There are different methods used to treat depression, including both psychological treatments and physical treatments. Find out what to do if you want to know more about how to manage depression symptoms.

This can help with:

  • Understanding different types of treatments for depression
  • Managing depression symptoms 
  • Understanding your depression treatment plan

Why treating depression is important

Depression is able to be treated, but when it isn’t properly managed it can seriously interfere with your life. Figuring out a course of treatment that works for you can be difficult on your own so it’s worth seeking professional advice from a doctor so you can work it out together. Though you may still have some pretty tough days, proper management of depression will make things much easier for you.

How to treat depression

Depression doesn’t have a clear cause; it can be the result of biological factors (like your genes or the chemicals in your brain) or environmental factors (like your life experiences), or perhaps both. 

Depression also exists in many different forms, ranging on a spectrum from mild to severe. That means that a treatment plan for depression is going to look different for every person. For example, mild depression might involve a lot of self-care (things like physical exercise) while severe depression might involve more focused psychological treatment and medication (see below for more information on this).

Rest assured, however, depression can be treated. It can sometimes take a bit of time, but with the help of your doctor, you will be able to work out a treatment plan that works for you.  

More about psychological treatments for depression

These can work alongside medication or on their own. They’re usually provided to a person with depression by an expert such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional and they involve changing negative patterns of thinking, or working to improve relationships.

Types of psychological treatments that might be used include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)- this is the most endorsed type of therapy and is where a clinical psychologist works with you to change negative thought patterns and behaviour that’s causing you problems. 

  • Counselling is where a counsellor talks to you about your problems and helps you figure out exactly what the big problems are.

  • Interpersonal therapy – a structured program for improving relationships.

  • Other types of psychotherapy. This can include things like acceptance and commitment therapy (a therapy based on mindfulness) or structured problem solving (which involves working with a therapist to identify problems and figuring out how to overcome them) and these are delivered by a range of mental health professionals.
Your GP or therapist will be able to help you work out the best approach for you.

More about physical treatments for depression


Medication can be helpful in managing depression. There are several different types of antidepressant medications which are prescribed by doctors or psychiatrists. The common types of antidepressants are:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Selective Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors  (SNRIs)
They each work in different ways and have different applications but put simply, they work by restoring chemical imbalances in the brain. Like most medications there can be side-effects, and some medications are better suited to adults than young people. It is important to ask about what options you have, how the medication will affect you, and how to take it safely.

Extra support

Sometimes when your depression is severe and seriously affecting your life, you might need more intensive support. You might need to spend a short time in hospital where mental health professionals can monitor your treatments and look after you until you are better. 

What to do next

If you want to know more about how any of these treatments may help you manage your depression symptoms, contact your doctor or mental health professional. They’ll be able to discuss your treatment options with you.

It's also a good idea to check out some self-help strategies for depression to see some of the things you could be doing alongside professional help to help manage your depression. You can also try ReachOut NextStep it's an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with. Try ReachOut NextStep to learn about the support options available for you.

What can I do now?

  • Get involved in your treatment plan so you know what to do.
  • Keep note of any side effects of medication.
  • Get personalised support options for depression with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • Talk to your GP about cognitive behavioural therapy.


Last reviewed: 29 April, 2016
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  • Big Macc    (285 days ago)

    What are some good ways to help with being depressed at school???What should I do if I feel like this???Thanks

  • Doris    (1425 days ago)

    Hey Milkshake. Thanks for your insight and input on treating depression. You've pointed out some good points, like treatment resistant depression may only be unresponsive to the treatment offered so far. Sometimes finding the right treatment could be a trial-and-error journey, but there is no harm in trying new treatment options. One important aspect in the recovery journey is the person's willpower and desire to get better. It hard to believe anything is working unless one is willing to believe things could get better! It is true that the professional treating you needs to be aware of a variety of treatment options and be conscious of one treatment working for one person may have no effect on another. I've learnt from my own recovery journey that it is my responsibility to discuss with my doctors on their reasoning behind each treatment option. If a doctor forgot to mention the side effects of a medication, it is part of my job to ask or do some of my own research, or even provide that feedback to them. Effective treatment requires all parties involved to participate, to communicate and to stay committed to the recovery journey. Good on you Milkshake, it sounds like you have sought help and gained from it. Doris (moderator)

  • Milkshake    (1431 days ago)

    I've been treated for depression for many years, by many people and with many methods, and here's my advice. Making too many or too clear-cut distinctions of depression types is likely to cause confusion. There's a huge overlap between different depression types, and some of them are outdated. There's also an overlap between depression and other anxieties, such as general anxiety disorder and social anxiety. Every brain is unique! Keep a broad view in finding a description as well as solutions for your illness. At the moment, science hasn't progressed so far as to be able to tell you exactly which therapy form or which antidepressant will help you (other than in some labs, in the developmental stage). So it's allthemore important to get informed about all the different treating methods. There's a plethora of ways out there to tackle depression, though a substantial part of them has only been used in studies so far. If your depression hasn't responded to several antidepressants, you might have a treatment-resistant depression. It's most probably not treatment-resistant but rather resistant to the treatments that have been offered to you SO FAR. Treatment-resistant as well as chronic depression have been receiving too little attention, in my opinion, although in terms of overall disease burden they are the worst of the worst. There are good books out there about the two mentioned terms that provide some sort of road map out of your illness. It's important that the professional that is treating you is actually aware of the newest treatment options and that you are receiving them.