Depression is a treatable condition. Many people make a full recovery without treatment, but treatment may make recovery happen more quickly. Therapies have to be tailored to the individual patient.
Counselling and therapy
- Counselling: Gives the opportunity to discuss problems in confidence, in a safe environment, with an understanding person. Can help to put problems into perspective, and allow a person to move forwards with their life. The sessions can be used to develop coping strategies.
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): Has proven benefits for depressed people. Needs a skilled therapist, and about 8 to 12 sessions to get best results. Allows a person to examine their beliefs and thoughts, and lets them find practical solutions to their personal problems.
- Analytical psychotherapy: Has a focus on childhood experiences that can lead to depression in later life. Can take a long time and be emotionally challenging, but may be the best long-term solution for some people.
There are many antidepressants available. They mostly take at least three weeks to work, and have to be taken regularly and in the right doses. They have about a 70% success rate, and there is no drug that suits every person. If there is no response to drug therapy, a severely depressed person should be sent for specialist assessment (e.g. by a consultant psychiatrist).
Self help material
Learning more about depression can be a great help to most sufferers. There are plenty of leaflets, books, tapes, websites and self help groups to try.
Many people swear by herbalists, reflexology, aromatherapy, or hypnotherapy. They may be really helpful sometimes, but is not a good idea to turn to these therapies without being assessed by your doctor first. Don't try to diagnose yourself without medical help and do not take herbal medicines (eg Saint John's Wort) if you are on antidepressants; it can be extremely dangerous. If you are looking for a therapist, go to someone with a good reputation and check that they are registered with a professional body.
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