Depression treatment options
• If you suffer from depression or you feel flat a lot of the time, counselling with a qualified psychologist or counsellor can often help. Counselling is a proven treatment for depression*.
• Sometimes, especially in cases of severe or recurring depression, anti-depressant medication may also be recommended. Your counsellor will not prescribe medication. You can discuss anti-depressant medication with your GP or a Psychiatrist.
• For some types of anxiety and depression, a combination of anti-depressant medication together with professional counselling, may be more effective than either medication or counseling alone.
Depression is a mood disorder often triggered by life events that are difficult to cope with. However, depression can also be a hereditary condition that makes a person prone to depressive episodes. Counselling can support you through times of depression, help you understand your illness, and provide you with tools and mechanisms to get better. Sometimes, a counsellor might suggest that you speak to your Doctor about anti-depressant medication. Modern anti depressant medications include ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’ or SSRI’s, such as Citalopram (Cipramil), Efexor or Prozac. When taken correctly, and with the support and supervision of your psychologist, GP or Psychiatrist, anti-depressants can help stablise your mood and make the therapeutic intervention more successful.
How can counselling help with depression?
Depression is a mental illness that affects every aspect of a person’s life. If you are depressed, you often find that you lose interest in the things that you used to enjoy, or that you are unable to feel joy or excitement about anything in your life. You might have problems with sleep, with eating and with interactions with others. You may feel flat, glum or empty. When depression becomes severe, there is a danger that you may become preoccupied with the idea of death, including thinking about hurting yourself or committing suicide. You may be interested in this related article which includes a brief depression test.(This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)
Working with a professional counsellor, psychologist or therapist helps individuals with depression work through the reasons they have become depressed. Counsellors and psychologists are able to assist their clients in dealing with their depressive illness, sometimes achieving full recovery and at other times learning necessary coping skills to reduce the impact of their symptoms on their lives.
Counselling and therapy techniques for depression
Counsellors, psychologists and therapists use a variety of techniques and methods to help individuals who are struggling with depression. They may encourage you to talk about your personal history and family history, particularly if there were any previous episodes of depression. This is an excellent way for both client and counsellor to discover patterns of depression over the course of a lifetime, to try to understand how the client reacts to difficult life events. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)
A professional counsellor may encourage you to get in touch with feelings and emotions that you may be avoiding or repressing, whether because you feel that these feelings are not justified or because you feel that expressing them would be counterproductive. Counselling will help you acknowledge these repressed emotions so you can process them and eventually move beyond them. Common ways to get repressed feelings out are letter writing, hitting a sofa, throwing clay, yelling at an empty chair, or simply talking deeply and in the safe environment of a counselling session. There are many ways in which a professional counsellor can help you safely express difficult or uncomfortable emotions to help understand your depression.
One of the goals of counselling and/or therapy for depression is not only to help you understand what has triggered your depression, but also to learn and integrate healthier coping skills to deal with the symptoms. If you are prone to being depressed from time to time, a counsellor can help you understand and recognise when you are falling into a depression and teach you how to redirect your emotions, and either stop the depression in its tracks or decrease or lessen the impact of a depressive episode.
How does medication help with depression?
Medication is sometimes an important component of treating depression.
Common features of depression include feelings of emotional numbness, a lack of ability to think clearly and concentrate, loss of enjoyment or interest in things, and feelings of extreme yet unprovoked sadness.
One client described her episode of depression as:
I feel as if I am in a deep, long, dark canyon. Consciously, I know there is a sky above me, somewhere, but I can’t see it and I can’t raise my head to look for it. All I can see and feel are the dark, damp walls around me. I am too scared to walk down the canyon to hopefully find a way out and I know I cannot climb the walls to get out of the canyon. So I just sit here, stuck, scared and thinking there is no way out of this. It is a totally hopeless and powerless feeling with no respite.
These sort of intense and deeply-felt emotions can be very hard to overcome without the support of medication. Whilst medication is unlikely to resolve depression on its own, it can lift your mood, assist you to think clearly again and thereby improve your capacity to benefit from counselling therapy. Anti-depressant medication can be of particular benefit in situations of severe depressive episode, or if you have experienced a long period of mild depression (Dysthemia). Anti-depressant medication can also protect you from suicidal thoughts. For a small percentage of clients suicidal thoughts are also a symptom of beginning to take anti depressant medication; as such your medication must be monitored by a trained medical professional.
Anti-depressant medication works to correct chemical imbalances in the brain associated with depression, usually by targeting the availability of serotonin, which acts as a mood stabiliser in the brain. This correction helps to diminish the symptoms of depression. Anti-depressants can be extremely effective in aiding people to overcome depression. However, it can take some time to find the right anti-depressant medication for you, and in the right dose. In Australia, only medical practitioners (GPs or Psychiatrists) are able to prescribe medication. Ideally, your GP or Psychiatrist will work in conjunction with your Counsellor or Psychologist assisting you to select the right anti-depressant medication whilst getting feedback from your counsellor about your progress. Anti-depressant medication often comes with side-effects, so ask your Doctor to explain what these might be. Insomnia, reduced libido, a dry mouth, and nausea, are examples of side-effects which are commonly experienced by users of anti-depressant medication.
Where do I go if I think I am depressed?
If you believe you are having problems with depression or low mood, consider booking a consultation with a qualified counsellor, psychologist or therapist to explore how counselling can help you resolve the depression. Your counsellor will recommend that you go see a Psychiatrist or GP if they feel that depression medication may be valuable in your particular circumstances. However your counsellor is not trained to assess the need for medication or to decide the best medication for you and that is a decision best discussed with your GP.
To obtain further information and advice please contact Associated Counselors & Psychologists Sydney
(This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)
Common mispellings and alternative search terms used to find this page include: Dipression; Metal Illness; Mood Diorder; Sadness; Unhappiness; Depression Councilling; Depression Counselor; Depression Psychlogy.
* Jorm, A et al “A Guide to What Works for Depression”, Beyond Blue, 2009
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