Depression is a common problem, so if you are depressed you are not alone. About 1 in 25 Australians meet the criteria for depression each year.
If you feel life is not worth living, you need to get help immediately by talking to your doctor, calling a friend or family member, or calling a helpline.
There are effective treatments for depression, but no single treatment is right for everyone.
Image: Ross-Edward Cairney/Shutterstock.com
There are effective treatments for depression, but there is no single treatment that is right for everybody.
Treatments for depression can be divided into:
The decision to take an antidepressant or have psychological therapy, or combine both, is very individual, but the severity of depression should guide the choice. Talk to your doctor about what you think will work best for you.
For moderate depression, antidepressants and CBT are about as effective as each other in the short term. However, the effects of CBT may keep depression away for longer than those of an antidepressant after you stop treatment.
If you have severe depression, an antidepressant is recommended from the start of treatment. Psychological therapies might be used later.
For severe depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered. It can be very effective and even life-saving for some people.
There is no ‘best’ antidepressant for everyone, because two individuals can respond quite differently to the same antidepressant. Talking to your doctor about which side effects are the most important for you to avoid can help you make the best choice. You can find information about individual medicines in Antidepressants A–Z.
There are also many complementary medicines and alternative therapies for depression. Some have evidence to back them up, but most don’t. Whatever you decide to take, let you doctor or pharmacist know about it — some complementary medicines interact with prescription medicines. For example, St John’s wort has dangerous interactions with antidepressants and many other medicines.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: summary of results, 2007. Canberra: ABS, 2008. (accessed 9 February 2012).
- Ellis P; Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Clinical Practice Guidelines Team for Depression. Australian and New Zealand clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of depression. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2004;38:389–407. (accessed 9 February 2012).
- National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. Depression: the NICE guideline on the treatment and management of depression in adults (updated edition). London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. (accessed 9 February 2012).
- Moses GM, McGuire T. Drug interactions with complementary medicines. Aust Prescr 2010; 33:177–80. (accessed 9 February 2012).
- Fournier JC, DeRubeis RJ, Hollon SD, et al. Antidepressant drug effects and depression severity: a patient-level meta-analysis. JAMA 2010; 303:47-53.
- Kirsch I, Deacon BJ, Huedo-Medina TB, et al. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS Med 2008; 5:e45.