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Women - Treatment for Depression

Treatment for Depression

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. Information about the effectiveness of modern treatments for depression is clear. As with other psychological problems, the earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Of course, treatment will not eliminate life's inevitable stresses and ups and downs. But it can greatly enhance your ability to manage such challenges and lead to greater enjoyment of life.

Types of treatment for depression 

The most commonly used treatments for depression are psychotherapy and antidepressant medication,  or a combination of the two. Which of these is the right treatment for an individual depends on the nature and severity of the depression and, to some extent, on individual preference. In mild or moderate depression, psychotherapy is most likely the most appropriate treatment But, in severe or incapacitating depression, medication is generally recommended, in addition to psychotherapy. In combined treatment, medication can relieve physical symptoms quickly, while psychotherapy allows you to learn more effective ways of handling your problems. 

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy is used to treat depression in several ways. First, supportive counseling can help to ease the pain of depression, and can address the hopelessness of depression.  Second, cognitive therapy works to change the pessimistic ideas, unrealistic expectations, and overly critical self-evaluations that create the depression and sustain it. Cognitive therapy can help the depressed person recognize which life problems are critical, and which are minor. It also helps them to develop positive life goals, and a more positive self-assessment. Third, problem solving therapy is usually needed to change the areas of the person's life that are creating significant stress, and contributing to the depression. This may require behavioral therapy to develop better coping skills, or Interpersonal therapy, to assist in resolving relationship problems. Research has shown that these psychotherapies are particularly helpful for treating depression. 

Medications 

Except in the more severe depressions, and bipolar depression, medication is usually an option, rather than a necessity. Antidepressant medication does not cure depression, it only helps you to feel better by controlling certain symptoms. If you are depressed because of life problems, such as relationship conflicts, divorce, loss of a loved one, job pressures, financial crises, serious medical problems in yourself or a family member, legal problems, or problems with your children, taking a pill will not make those problems go away.

The medications used to treat depression include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), and bupropion. Each acts on different chemical pathways of the human brain related to moods. Antidepressant medications are not habit-forming. To be effective, medications must be taken for about 4-6 months (in a first episode), carefully following the doctor's instructions. Medications must be monitored to ensure the most effective dosage and to minimize side effects. 

Your prescribing doctor will provide information about possible side-effects and/or dietary restrictions. Always remember that all prescription drugs have potential side effects. In addition, other medically prescribed medications being used should be reviewed because some can interact negatively with antidepressant medication. 

Pregnant, Nursing, or Childbearing-Age Women

In general, during pregnancy, all medications (including psychotherapeutic medications) should be avoided where possible, and other methods of treatment should be tried. 

A woman who is taking a psychotherapeutic medication and plans to become pregnant should discuss her plans with her doctor; if she discovers that she is pregnant, she should contact her doctor immediately. During early pregnancy, there is a possible risk of birth defects with some of these medications, and for this reason:

1) Lithium is not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy. 

2) Benzodiazepines are not recommended during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

The decision to use a psychotherapeutic medication should be made only after a careful discussion with the doctor concerning the risks and benefits to the woman and her baby. 

Small amounts of medication pass into the breast milk; this is a consideration for mothers who are planning to breast-feed. 

A woman who is taking birth-control pills should be sure that her doctor is aware of this. The estrogen in these pills may alter the breakdown of medications by the body, for example increasing side effects of some antianxiety medications and/or reducing their efficacy to relieve symptoms of anxiety. 

For more detailed information about medication, talk to your doctor, consult your local public library, write to the pharmaceutical company that produces the medication or contact: 

US. Food and Drug Administration
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857.


The Symptoms of Depression and Manic Episodes
Risk Factors for Women
Treatment of Depression

Treatment: Depression and Bipolar Disorder: