Types Of Depression Medication, Depression: What Every Woman Should Know
Q: DEPRESSION IS A TREATABLE ILLNESS
Even severe depression can be highly responsive to treatment. Indeed,
believing one's condition is "incurable" is often part of the hopelessness
that accompanies serious depression. Such individuals should be provided
with the information about the effectiveness of modern treatments for depression
in a way that acknowledges their likely skepticism about whether treatment will
work for them. As with many illnesses, the earlier treatment begins, the
more effective and the greater the likelihood of preventing serious recurrences.
Of course, treatment will not eliminate life's inevitable stresses and ups and
downs. But it can greatly enhance the ability to manage such challenges and
lead to greater enjoyment of life.
A:The first step in treatment for depression should be a thorough examination to rule out any physical illnesses that may cause depressive symptoms. Since certain medications can cause the same symptoms as depression, the examining physician should be made aware of any medications being used. If a physical cause for the depression is not found, a psychological evaluation should be conducted by the physician or a referral made to a mental health professional. Types of Treatment for Depression The most commonly used treatments for depression are antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Which of these is the right treatment for any one individual depends on the nature and severity of the depression and, to some extent, on individual preference. In mild or moderate depression, one or both of these treatments may be useful, while in severe or incapacitating depression, medication is generally recommended as a first step in the treatment.3 In combined treatment, medication can relieve physical symptoms quickly, while psychotherapy allows the opportunity to learn more effective ways of handling problems. Medications There are several types of antidepressant medications used to treat depressive disorders. These include newer medications-chiefly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)-and the tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The SSRIs-and other newer medications that affect neurotransmitters such as dopamine or norepinephrine-generally have fewer side effects than tricyclics. Each acts on different chemical pathways of the human brain related to moods. Antidepressant medications are not habit-forming. Although some individuals notice improvement in the first couple of weeks, usually antidepressant medications must be taken regularly for at least 4 weeks and, in some cases, as many as 8 weeks, before the full therapeutic effect occurs. To be effective and to prevent a relapse of the depression, medications must be taken for about 6 to 12 months, carefully following the doctor's instructions. Medications must be monitored to ensure the most effective dosage and to minimize side effects. For those who have had several bouts of depression, long-term treatment with medication is the most effective means of preventing recurring episodes. The prescribing doctor will provide information about possible side effects and, in the case of MAOIs, dietary and medication restrictions. In addition, other prescribed and over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements being used should be reviewed because some can interact negatively with antidepressant medication. There may be restrictions during pregnancy.