Is Clinical Depression Treatable?

Clinical depression is readily treatable with counseling and medication. Many people suffer needlessly from depression because they don't seek treatment. They may feel that depression is a personal weakness, or try to cope with their symptoms alone.

If you are feeling depressed, and have been for over a month, you should consider seeking professional help from a gay-positive (or trans-supportive) therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, or other health care provider. There are plenty of mental and other health professionals who will support you and guide you towards being a happy and healthy GLBT person-you deserve nothing less. If you are looking for a gay-supportive counselor, ask friends for referrals or call a local GLBT-friendly mental health agency.

A study performed by the National Institutes of Mental Health showed that after 16 weeks of psychotherapy, 55% of those with mild to moderate depression reported significant improvement. Different people react in different ways to various types of counseling, but cognitive therapy--in which you learn to recognize and replace depressive thinking--can be particularly effective for people experiencing depression.

When there is a chemical component to depression, antidepressant medication can help to correct the chemical imbalance (low levels of brain serotonin and norepinephrine). People with moderate to severe depression are most likely to benefit and improve from the use of medication. Many different types of antidepressants have been developed-if one doesn't work for you, another one probably will. Some studies have shown that combinations of antidepressant drugs and good psychotherapy may be the best approach.

Depression and suicide

Sometimes people become so depressed that they think about harming or killing themselves. These thoughts and actions can be "passive"--like not wanting to wake up in the morning or wishing to disappear, as well as "active"--like taking pills, cutting oneself or shooting oneself. When suicidal thoughts or acts are present, it's a good indication that the person may be struggling with a very serious depression.

If you are thinking about hurting yourself or have laid out a suicide plan, please get help immediately. Call a friend, your doctor or your local crisis telephone service. You are not alone and although it may be hard to imagine right now, these feelings will pass and you will be glad you did seek help. If you're in King County and want to speak with someone right away, call the Crisis Clinic at 206-461-3222 any time of the day or night.

If you have a friend or loved one who is thinking about suicide, talk to them about it openly and help them get some professional help as quickly as possible. Asking about suicide does not make it more likely that a person will harm themselves--often people find it a great relief to finally have someone to talk to.

Tips for handling depression

  • Try to accept your depression as an illness. You cannot will the depression away.
  • Try to do things that you enjoy--visit friends, get a massage, take a class--to get your mind off what may be contributing to the depression and to focus on things that help you feel better.
  • Delay any big decisions or changes that involve work, love or money until you feel better.
  • It's common to be forgetful when you're depressed, stressed out or anxious. Take notes and make lists. Your memory will improve when you feel better.
  • Waking through the night is very common. It's better to get out of bed until you feel sleepy again. Repeated awakening in the early morning without being able to return to sleep easily is a sign that medical evaluation is needed.
  • Mornings are often the worst time. The day usually gets better towards evening.
  • Avoid being home alone for long periods--the depressive thoughts can get worse when no one is around.
  • Get outside at least once a day for a walk. Light to moderate exercise of any kind can be very helpful to your recovery.
  • Don't try to "medicate" yourself with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. These drugs may actually make you more depressed than you were to begin with.

What do if someone you love is depressed

It can be difficult to be around a friend who is depressed. You may feel helpless and sometimes angry, particularly if the person is irritable and doesn't respond when you reach out. Keep reminding yourself that the person is ill, and doesn't mean to be hurtful or unresponsive.

You can't relieve clinical depression with love alone any more than you can cure heart disease or diabetes with just love. People who are depressed need professional help, and some require medication.

On the other hand, social support improves treatment results in many serious illnesses including depression. Reach out to your depressed friend so that he or she knows that you care. Call. Send affectionate notes. Invite the person to dinner, movies, ball games, parties, and other events. But keep your expectations low. Even if your friend doesn't respond, you can be sure that he or she appreciates your attempts.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, September 5). Is Clinical Depression Treatable?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Last Updated: April 12, 2017

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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