Typical depression treatments include medication, psychological therapy, and Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). There are a few other treatments that can be considered by the elderly individual and the doctor.
Some alternative treatments have started to become accepted into the western medicine culture while others are not because studies have been conducted yet of sufficient amount to determine safety and effectiveness. These alternatives methods have however proven to bring relief from stress and in so doing can benefit the elderly individual suffering from depression. Some of the more popular alternative treatments are:
Vagal Nerve Stimulation - Vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) was approved in July of 2005, by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in long-term or recurrent major depression in adults. This therapy has been used to treat those with hart-to-treat epilepsy and also those who are 18 years old and have not been able to be successfully treated with 4 or more antidepressant treatments.
VNS uses electrical impulses along the vagus nerve in the neck to treat severe depression. The treatment actually destroys part of the vagus nerve.
It is important to note that most alternative therapies require some measure of physical exertions; so older adults should consult first with their doctor before starting any alternative therapies. Herbal remedies can react to other medications that the elderly person is on so caution should be exercised when contemplating using alternative therapies.
More studies are required regarding the validity of the safety and effectiveness of most mind-body therapies. Mind-body therapies can include tai chi and yoga.
A study done by Ohio State University found that 70% of older Americans have turned to alternative treatments in place of medications that can give them side effects. The most popular of the alternative therapies seems to be the use of chiropractors.
The elderly are at a higher risk for suicide if depression goes untreated so using alternative therapies should only be done after consulting the doctor who is treating the individual for depression.
The reason that alternative therapies are considered for elderly depression is that depression according to some scientists is a biochemical illness. The triggers for the depression cause a neurochemical change that leads to the feelings of depression. Alternative treatments are designed to re-establish balance and harmony within the body. The typical alternative therapies to do this are: acupuncture, biofeedback and dietary factors that encourage good nutrition.
The World Heath Organization does list acupuncture as being a valuable alternative in the treatment for acupuncture if the individual is unable to use antidepressants.
When alternative treatments are being considered it is important to monitor the individual regarding the intensity of depression and to be in close contact with the doctor under whose care the individual is under. Depression can be very serious in the elderly and any treatment plan should be adjusted according to the state of depression at regular intervals.