There are a number antidepressant medications designed to treat depression. The main classes of antidepressantsare selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which includeProzac-like drugs; as well as other newer antidepressants. These drugs affect additional neurotransmitters that may be involved in depression, such as dopamine.

    Psychotherapy is normally used to augment drug therapy or ECT. Psychotherapy alone is not recommended for patients with moderate or serious depressive episodes, but only for mild cases of depression. Psychotherapy is by its very nature a lengthy process; its success is by no means certain or scientifically proven, and depends largely on the skill of the therapist. However, research has shown that psychotherapy and support groups can have a certain influence on patients’ ability to continue drug therapy.

    Electro-convulsive therapy is usually administered in cases of severe depression, in which drug therapy is ineffective or not an option, and in which depression directly threatens a patient’s life. ECT has advanced in recent years and it is now administered under full general anesthesia with muscle relaxation. Treatment is administered by attaching electrodes to precise locations on the scalp and passing electrical current through them for a brief period of 30 seconds. ECT typically consists of a series of 6-12 treatment sessions, two to three times a week.

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