Depression treatment

Depression is a very common mental illness with far-reaching effects on the body. In addition to a depressed mood, concentration problems, reduced self-esteem, increased anxiety and restlessness, sleep disorders, weakness, pain and loss of appetite can also be an expression of a depressive illness.

Decoding signals from the body

Physical symptoms that can occur with depression are often very different and can resemble other clinical pictures. For this reason, at the beginning of the treatment it must be carefully checked whether the physical complaints (tiredness, sleep disturbance, loss of appetite and weight, sexual dysfunction, pain, etc.) are due to a primary disease of the body, e.g. of the thyroid gland or intolerance diseases. It is particularly important to consider depression as a possible cause of the symptoms if they occur together with other stresses in your life.

Our approach focuses on shedding light on important possible causes of complaints, both on a physical and psychological level, and supporting patients in classifying their complaints.

Various therapies for depression

Various methods are used to treat depression:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • analytical psychotherapy
  • depth psychological psychotherapy
  • Talking psychotherapy

Behavioral therapy often promises good results. However, which form of therapy is chosen also depends on the patient’s preference.

The aim of behavioral therapy is to question thought patterns and relearn behaviors through positive experiences.

Analytical psychotherapy is based on Sigmund Freud. The aim here is to work through unresolved conflicts or traumatic experiences from earlier times (e.g. childhood). The sick person lies on a couch and talks while the therapist sits behind them.

The depth psychology method works in a similar way, except that the therapist and patient sit opposite each other and the focus is on solving specific problems.

Talk therapy creates a close and intimate relationship between therapist and patient. The therapist expresses their thoughts on the patient’s everyday situations.

How psychotropic drugs work

In cases of severe depression, psychotropic drugs, usually antidepressants, often support the therapy. They do not work immediately, but often only after two, sometimes three, four or five weeks. Antidepressants influence the neurotransmitters, the messenger substances in the brain. These are mainly serotonin and noradrenaline. They serve to bridge tiny gaps between nerve cells in the brain during the transmission of emotions. In depressed people, this transmission of emotions is often disturbed. Antidepressants ensure that the neurotransmitters function better again. However, side effects can occur.

There are the following groups of antidepressants:

Tri- and tetracyclic antidepressants: They inhibit the breakdown of neurotransmitters in the nerve cells. This means that more messenger substances are available for transmitting stimuli. Possible side effects include cardiac arrhythmia, weight gain, visual disturbances and digestive problems.

ssRI/ssNRI: These antidepressants also ensure that nerve cells break down the neurotransmitters more slowly. Typical side effects include cardiovascular problems, nausea, headaches and digestive problems.

MAO inhibitors: These suppress the effect of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO), which breaks down the neurotransmitters in the brain. Side effects include sleep disorders, dry mouth, restlessness and changes in blood pressure.

Lithium: We only use lithium if other medications do not help. It often enhances the effect of other antidepressants. Diarrhea, increased urination and muscle weakness were observed as side effects.

Alpha-2 antagonists: They increase the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and noradrenaline by suppressing their antagonists.

St. John’s wort: St. John’s wort often helps with mild depression. However, we should also be consulted here, as this can lead to gastrointestinal complaints and allergic skin reactions.

We clarify interactions with other medications before prescribing them. If the person feels significantly better, they should continue to take the antidepressant for a few months. This prevents a relapse (maintenance therapy).

For patients

As a patient, you cannot register directly for a consultation. Please get a referral from your primary care physician, specialist.

For referrering physicians

This offer is aimed at people between the ages of 18 and 65. Simply assign your patient to us online.

University Hospital Zurich
Department of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine
Culmannstrasse 8
8091 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 255 52 80
Assign online

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