Counselling Advice FAQ: Depression

By EssentialsMAG mental health & well-being contributor KIM PATEL


QUESTION:

My doctor has diagnosed me with depression and wants to start me on anti-depressants, but I’m not sure whether I want to take tablets. Please can you help?

ANSWER:

Scientists are not entirely sure on the causes of depression. Some believe that brain chemical imbalances lead to depression. We also know that experiences can contribute to the likelihood of a person developing depression, such as adverse childhood experiences, bullying, stress and anxiety, or as a reaction to a long-term health problem.

Whether you choose to take anti-depressant medication, or not, is entirely your choice. Most GPs would agree that taking anti-depressant medication would be treating the symptoms and not getting to the cause of the depression/low mood. Best practice therefore is to recommend talking therapy as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with medication.

It is not uncommon to experience a wide range of side-effects when you start taking anti-depressants as it takes time for the drug to reach a therapeutic level in your blood. You may be on them for six months (as a minimum), and anti-depressants should not be suddenly stopped due to potential side-effects. Indeed, with your GP reducing your dose over time you are also likely to experience side-effects. Always talk to your doctor before stopping your medication, and about any side-effects you are experiencing.

Side-effects may include loss of libido (sex drive), suicidal thoughts, panic and anxiety, insomnia, dry mouth or constipation. Side-effects which are common to your antidepressant will be listed in the patient information leaflet with your medication. Since alcohol is a depressant substance, drinking alcohol whilst taking anti-depressants is not advised due to a worsening of the depression and increasing some side-effects.

Just as there are several types of antidepressant, there are different types of counselling/talking therapy. One type of talking therapy is not superior to another. Just as you may need to try several anti-depressants to find a good fit, you may need to meet several counsellors.

Talking therapy helps you learn how to manage your symptoms, prevent relapse and understand your condition more fully. Mindfulness has a growing evidence base for preventing relapse in depression.

You are not alone, and there are many lifestyle measures (e.g. exercise) that can make a significant everyday difference guiding you towards recovery.


EssentialsMAG mental health & well-being contributor is Kim Patel from Ebb & Flow Counselling www.counsellinginwrexham.co.uk Tel: 07530 553 983

Victoria Lee