Your Therapy

Finding the best depression treatment

Clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, is one of the most common mental health challenges, affecting literally millions of Canadians at any given moment. The mental and physical symptoms of depression can be quite severe, disrupting day-to-day life and making work, school, family and social activities all but impossible. (You can see an extensive list of depressions symptoms here: However, depression treatments are both widely available and generally quite effective. 

Treatment options

Since depression is both so common and so debilitating, it’s been widely studied. We have a very large body of research stretching back decades showing that the best treatment is multilayered. That is, the most effective way to treat depression is with a combination of pharmacology and talk therapy, along with some lifestyle interventions. I’ve discussed the first two elements in past blogs and on my main website, so this time I’d like to give some examples of these lifestyle interventions.


One significant aspect of major depression is the loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, along with fatigue and an inability to make decisions. Simply put, when you’re depressed, you just don’t want to do anything. To combat this, therapists sometimes use a technique called behaviour activation. The idea is that using small steps will activate you to take some action—any action, no matter how small. For example, if a client is spending all day lying in bed, I’ll ask them to go lie on the couch for a while. Or if they’re unable to leave the house, I’ll ask them to sit on their porch or balcony, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Then in our next session, we’ll talk about how they accomplished this, how much effort it took and how they can do it again. In addition, we try to help a client understand that although their depression is very challenging, it isn’t all of them. But they need to make that decision to go out, instead of letting depression make the decision to keep them in bed. All of this emphasizes the point that even small steps can be very powerful.

Another helpful at-home intervention in the same vein is “taking a break” from the depression. You may be taking meds and doing talk therapy but again, it’s important to remember that depression isn’t all of you. One of my favourite “prescriptions” is for a client to take time to immerse themselves in an activity. For example, watching a comedy movie can take you away from the depression for a while. Maybe you will laugh or just smile or think of something else for a while.  You can carry on with the work of therapy and treatments after, but it’s OK to set all of that aside for a short while, and try to lose yourself in a simple, everyday activity. Moments like this really do help you get better, and are an important part of an overall depression treatment plan.

Thanks for reading and, as always, please feel free to reach out with questions about this or other mental health issues.

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