In addition to medications and therapy, a few other depression treatments are available. These include:
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Alternative treatments.
When medication, psychosocial treatment, and the combination of these treatments prove ineffective (or work too slowly to relieve severe symptoms), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered.
Electroconvulsive therapy is particularly useful for individuals whose depression is severe or life-threatening, or who cannot take antidepressant medication. ECT is often effective when antidepressant drugs do not provide sufficient relief of depression symptoms.
In recent years, this type of depression treatment has improved greatly. The person receives a muscle relaxant prior to ECT, and the treatment is performed while the person is under brief anesthesia. Electrodes are placed at precise locations on the head to deliver electrical impulses. The stimulation causes a brief seizure within the brain, lasting about 30 seconds. The person receiving ECT does not consciously experience the electrical stimulus.
For the full therapeutic benefit to be seen, the person must receive at least several sessions of ECT -- typically given at the rate of three per week.
Over the past few years, there has been quite a bit of interest in using herbs to treat both depression and anxiety. St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), an herb used extensively in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in Europe, has recently aroused interest in the United States.
In two large studies of people with major depression, St. John's wort was not shown to be effective at treating major depression of moderate severity. It is currently being studied in people with mild depression to see if it has any effects.
Some other possible alternative treatments for depression include:
(Click Natural Remedies for Depression or Acupuncture and Depression for more information on what research has shown regarding these alternative treatments.)