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Achieving Remission in Depression

Depression is a substantial public-health issue. Statistics show that up to 9 percent of the U.S. adult population experiences one or more symptoms of depression in his/her lifetime. Three percent will have a confirmed Major Depressive Disorder diagnosis. Almost 12.5 percent of adolescents age 12 to 17 have depressive symptoms. Among the elderly, the range is 5 to 13.5 percent, depending on additional factors impacting health status. In the U.S., depression is the leading cause of disability among individuals 15 to 44 years old, and depression often occurs in combination with other health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart issues, making both much more difficult to treat.

Depression usually strikes more than once in a lifetime. For many people, it can be a chronic or lifelong illness, with several relapses or recurrences. On average, most people with depression will have four to five episodes during their lifetime. Depression contributes significantly to attempted and/or completed suicides. This is why it is so vital to seek treatment.

The goal for treatment of depression is to achieve remission and not to just settle for improvement of symptoms by more than 50 percent, since reduction of symptoms may only increase the risk for relapse. Doctors define relapse as another episode of depression that happens fewer than six months after treatment for acute depression. A recurrence is a new episode that comes after six months or longer since the previous episode has resolved. Regardless of the timeline, it can be demoralizing to feel depression symptoms such as sadness, fatigue, and irritability creeping back into your life.

The good news is that psychiatrists now have many options when treating depression and achieving remission. These can include using more than one antidepressant, each having different mechanisms of action; adding an atypical antipsychotic to boost the effect of the antidepressant; and incorporating therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

It is important to talk openly with your treatment provider if you feel that you are experiencing any symptoms of depression. It is also important that you define your goals for success so that you can improve the quality of your life.

For more information about depression and/or treatment, or to speak with a member of the Christian Health Mental Health Services team, visit our website or call (201) 848-5500.