(I) Pyschological therapies
Doctors can often arrange for sufferers to have counselling as part of their treatment. Counselling usually takes the form of a one-to-one session where you have an opportunity to express your feelings and problems, with the counsellor listening and asking questions. Generally in counselling, you won’t be told what to do about these feelings. A typical course of counselling is around 6 sessions. More structured types of psychological treatment also exist, including cognitive behavioural therapy.
A wide range of antidepressant medication is now available. It is important to recognise that these are different from tranquillisers or anti-psychotic medicines. However, like all medicines, they can have some side-effects, but they are not addictive and do not change a person’s personality. The two main groups of antidepressants are known as SSRIs (which stands for selective selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) and tricyclics (the name refers to the molecular structure of the drug). They are both known to be effective in treating depression but SSRIs, a group of drugs which includes fluoxetine (Prozac), are now being more widely used because their side-effects tend to be less troublesome.
Most antidepressants take two weeks or so to start gradually working. They are then usually required for around six months to treat a single episode of depression, even if the symptoms clear up sooner. This is because it’s been shown that a longer course makes a relapse of depression less likely.
St Johns Wort is now a popular complementary medicine for depression that can be bought in health food stores and pharmacies. Some research studies have shown some promising results. If you take St Johns Wort, it’s important that you tell your doctor and pharmacist, as it does not mix well with some prescription medicines.