Treatment for depression
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. It’s important to find a treatment that works for you, and this may take some trial and error.
Treatments for depression can be divided into:
Antidepressants and CBT (a specific kind of psychological therapy) are about as effective as each other for improving symptoms of moderate depression in the short term. However, the effects of CBT last longer than those of antidepressants after you stop therapy.
The decision to take an antidepressant, or undertake psychological therapy, or combine both approaches, is very individual. Talk to your doctor about what you think will work best for you.
Lifestyle changes and supportive treatments such as exercise can also be helpful, but are not usually enough to treat depression on their own.
There are many complementary medicines and alternative therapies for depression too. Some have evidence to back them up, but many don’t. Some, such as St John’s wort, can have dangerous interactions with other medicines, including antidepressants. So it is important to be open with your doctor about everything you are taking.
For severe depression that doesn’t respond to other treatments, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered, as it can be very effective. The way ECT is given has changed a lot in the last 50 years, and a general anaesthetic is always given beforehand now.
Talking to your doctor about treatment for depression
Three questions to ask your doctor:
- What are my treatment options?
- What are their benefits and harms?
- How likely are these?
Asking these questions helped people with depression get more information about how to manage their condition, according to a recent Australian study.
For more information
- Medicines for depression: antidepressants
- Psychological therapies
- What to do next if you feel depressed
- beyondblue. beyondblue guide to the management of depression in primary care. Melbourne: beyondblue, 2009. (accessed 22 February 2012).
- Shepherd HL, Barratt A, Trevena LJ, et al. Three questions that patients can ask to improve the quality of information physicians give about treatment options: a cross-over trial. Patient Educ Couns 2011;84:379–85. [PubMed]
- 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.