Depression: treatment approaches as diverse as the causes of the disease itself
The options for treating depression are almost as diverse as the causes of mental suffering. From naturopathic therapy approaches with herbal active ingredients or acupuncture to surgical interventions with the implantation of electrodes in the brain, a variety of different treatment methods have already been successfully tested.
According to a recent study by the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI) on behalf of Allianz Health Insurance, depression is the main cause of inability to work and early retirement in Germany. Although there are numerous treatment options, not everyone affected can be helped. The economic costs are up to 22 billion euros annually, explained the RWI earlier this week.
Depression can have numerous causes. There are numerous possible causes of depression - from stress and metabolic disorders to genetic predispositions. The options for treating mental ailments, however, have a similar range as the possible causes. Depending on the severity of the depression and the possible causes, treatment methods can be achieved with a variety of methods, but the difficulty is to determine the correct treatment approach. In the past, promising successes have already been achieved with conventional medicine and naturopathic treatments, but a universal solution for the treatment of depression does not yet appear in sight. For example, on a naturopathic basis, acupuncture has already been successfully used to treat depression (especially pregnancy depression). St. John's wort is also recommended to remedy psychological disorders, which is used primarily for mild depression in menopausal women. In conventional medicine, however, the effects of St. John's wort are extremely controversial, even if the advocates are convinced that St. John's wort can work just as well as chemically manufactured antidepressants against depression.
Light therapy and acupuncture against depression? However, conventional medicine is far more open-minded when using other naturopathic methods to treat depression. For example, the effect of lavender oil on symptoms such as restlessness, sleep disorders or depression is examined at the Berlin Charité. Other rather unconventional treatment methods, such as irradiation with light in a strength of 2500 to 4000 lux for so-called winter depression, have already been successfully tested. At the University of Bochum, psychiatrists were also able to achieve positive effects in the treatment of depression with acupuncture. In addition, an Israeli-American team of researchers has demonstrated in a laboratory experiment on mice that inhaling the scent of incense can also alleviate depression.
Classic approach to treating depression The classic approach to treating depression, on the other hand, is based on the administration of so-called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are intended to increase the level of the brain messenger serotonin. Because in depressed people there is often a disturbance in the balance between the messenger substances in the brain. In the case of serious illnesses, lithium salts are also used for therapy to prevent relapse into depression. For the treatment of chronic depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which the brain is stimulated by rapidly pulsating magnetic fields, was also tested. Depression has also been used with the help of surgical interventions. For example, Canadian scientists have implanted electrodes in the brain with persistent severe depression and have successfully eliminated the depression by electrically stimulating certain regions of the brain.
Avoiding stress as prevention of depression Both conventional medicine and naturopathy assess stress as one of the main causes of depression, so that any measures to reduce stress, such as sports, walks, tai chi, autogenic training or relaxation exercises are considered to prevent depression. If the causes lie in physical pain, therapies for pain relief (pain therapies) can achieve considerable success in the treatment of depression. If hard strokes of fate as well as appropriate grief and trauma form the cause of depression, professional support can help to overcome it. In any case, those affected should seek help from a doctor or psychotherapist if they recognize signs of depression and are at risk of impairing their quality of life. (fp)
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