Can Antidepressants Work for Me?
A look at the complex mix of factors -- and key questions -- to consider.
A3. Would counseling help
your mild depression, either alone or combined with an antidepressant?
Experts say that in cases of mild depression, psychotherapy often works just
as effectively as antidepressants.
"I think it's always been appropriate… to try other things like therapy,
particularly with mild cases," Payne says. "When you start getting into
moderate cases, there really starts to be a big impact on someone's life. But
certainly for mild cases of depression, it's totally appropriate to start with
If people decide to use antidepressants, it's still best to combine drugs
with psychotherapy, Payne says. "When someone has had a depression, many parts
of their lives are affected--their relationships, the way they think about
things. You can have some leftover symptoms because you were thinking so
negatively for a year. It's hard to break that thought pattern. It's not just
about chemistry. That's where therapy can really help people to rebuild their
relationships, rebuild their lives."
Exercise also improves depression, she says. "It's abundantly clear that
exercise is very helpful with mood, whether you have mild, moderate, or severe"
Other measures that may help are things that relax you and promote a
positive outlook, such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture, Payne says. "All
of those things can be very helpful in moving people away from the more
negative thoughts that are associated with depression," she says.
Seeking out pleasurable experiences also improves mood, she says. And it's
best to do that daily.
"If they really enjoy taking the dog for a walk, they need to be doing that
every day," Payne says. "They need to increase the number of positive
experiences that they're having on a daily basis."
A4. Do you have a good working
relationship with your doctor?
People often get information about antidepressants online or from TV
commercials, Mischoulon says. Educating yourself is good, but it can also be
confusing to evaluate all of the treatment options without the help of a mental
"I think for the layperson, it can be difficult to sort through all of this
when they don't have the training to think critically about these different
choices that are out there," Mischoulon says. "So the best thing is, sure, be
an informed consumer, but work collaboratively with a doctor that you trust
because the doctor has the training and expertise to give you the best