Anxiety Depression Treatment

Must I take medication?

There is no general rule about the need to take medication. Someone who presents with a recent non-melancholic depression that came on after a major stressor, and who has few clinical symptoms, will often do well without the need for antidepressants.

If, however, depression came on for no good reason, sleep patterns are affected, lack of emotional control is making the condition worse, or the doctor thinks the patient might have a melancholic depression, then it would be best to trial an antidepressant.

With non-melancholic depression, there is no one treatment. It's a bit like deciding what to do when a car runs off the road into a ditch. If advice to rev the engine (counseling, psychotherapy) is moving the car back towards firm ground, fine. But if all that is happening is that the wheels are spinning, it's better to put a sack under the tyres to aid grip or call a tow-truck (medication) as well. Many antidepressants, particularly the SSRIs, act on a patient's predisposing and perpetuating personality traits (such as 'worrying'). They may therefore indirectly prevent the onset as well as shorten the duration-of depressive episodes.

When deciding to stop taking an antidepressant, the patient must check how to taper the dose. Suddenly ceasing all medication without slowly decreasing the dose can lead to severe emotional and physical reactions including anxiety, agitation, insomnia, severe sweats and racing heart. For some medications, even missing one dose can initiate a 'withdrawal reaction'.

For melancholic or psychotic depression, the advantages and need for physical treatments are distinct, with recovery quite unlikely to occur otherwise.

Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes only. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you have, or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.