09-03 A brief history of depression treatment

Posted in Mental Health, Therapy, Treatment

A brief history of depression treatment

As modalities of therapy continue to evolve over time, mental health professionals and researchers grow more knowledgeable of treating different  mental illnesses, including depression. As awareness grows, stigma decreases and there are more resources regarding mental health treatment, such as support groups, become more accessible. Looking back on the history of depression treatment sheds light on how the illness has been portrayed and understood over the centuries.

Peter Bongiorno ND, LAC, writing for Psychology Today, notes that hydrotherapy, or bathing in water, has been used since ancient times to cure mental health ailments. A University of Manchester study published in the journal Archives of General Psychology confirmed theories put forth by Sigmund Freud, one of the inspirations behind what is commonly called psychotherapy today. Freud postulated that depression stems from feelings of guilt and self-blame. Research confirms this theory as data collected from brain scans of depressed patients indicated differences in guilt-related regions of the brain when compared to a control groups.

The Beck Institute and The American Psychologist recognize Aaron T. Beck, an American psychiatrist and a professor emeritus in the department of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, as the father of cognitive therapy and one of the most influential psychotherapists of all time. His research into psychopathologies has developed markers to help diagnose depression and many other mental illnesses around the world in a structured, efficient way.

Anti-depressants have also developed extensively over the years, with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) among the first classes of drugs to treat the condition. While the medications help some feel better in their time of need, according to the article “The Transdermal Delivery System of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors” by Chad M. Vandenberg, PharmD, BCPP, these drugs have been replaced by other medications due to higher risk of dangerous side effects. The few MAOIs still approved for prescription are usually given when all other kinds of antidepressants don’t work.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) hit the market in the 1980s and were designed to make a more localized effect in the brain by impacting just serotonin, according to the mental health resource website Mind.org. Prozac, or fluoxetine, was the first SSRI available, eventually leading to 24.4 million prescriptions during 2010 in the United States, as reported by the Modern Medicine Network. Multiple SSRIs have made the World Health Organization’s “List of Essential Medicines,” a guideline for countries maintaining a basic healthcare system.

The history of depression diagnosis and treatment is indeed varied and substantial. These innovations in mental health treatment have led to numerous forms of tried and true care for those with depressive disorders.

Many people still go without adequate care, experiencing alarming symptoms such as crippling feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Depression Treatment Centers of California is a resource for finding treatment of depression and other mental illnesses right away. Call at any time for help.


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