Questions and Answers About Depression
4. Are there any alternatives to the traditional treatments for depression that I can try?
Alternative therapy describes any treatment or technique that has not been scientifically documented or identified as safe or effective for a specific condition. Alternative therapy involves a variety of disciplines that include everything from diet and exercise to mental conditioning and lifestyle changes. Some of these have been found to be effective for treating depression. Examples of alternative therapies include acupuncture, guided imagery, chiropractic care, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, aromatherapy, relaxation, herbal remedies, massage, and many others. If you are interested in trying any of these options, talk to your doctor.
5. How can you determine if an illness is causing depression or depression is causing an illness?
Illnesses that can lead to depression are usually major, chronic, and/or terminal. When an illness is causing depression, there is often long-term pain present or there is a sudden change in lifestyle.
Depression causes illness in a different way. Like psychological stress, it can weaken the immune system (cells involved in fighting disease and keeping you healthy), allowing a person to get more colds or the flu. There is often a notable presence of "aches and pains" with no particular cause. Having depression may also cause the symptoms of another medical illness to last longer and intensify its symptoms, but the true relationship of depression-induced illness, in terms of major disease, has not been thoroughly defined.
It is important to seek the advice of your doctor if you think you or someone you know may have depression.
6. I've heard lots of warnings about drug interactions with certain depression medicines. What are they?
MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, are effective antidepressant medicines that have been used for years. Typically prescribed for people with severe depression, MAOIs improve mood by increasing the number of chemicals in the brain that pass messages between brain cells. They have proven to work just as well as other antidepressant drugs, but they have more possible food and drug interactions.
Medicines to avoid when taking MAOIs include all SSRIs (a group of antidepressants that includes Prozac and Paxil) and certain pain medicines, including Demerol and tramadol. There are also some cough medicines and blood pressure medicines that should not be taken with MAOIs. Foods to avoid when taking MAOIs include aged cheeses and meats, pickled or smoked foods like sauerkraut or meat, and aged or fermented foods such as soy sauce or tap beer. It is important to tell your doctor about any medicines you are currently taking. Be sure to discuss the limitations, interactions, and possible side effects of MAOIs.