All Treatments for Depression Are NOT Created Equally!
Dr. Richard Schultz Says...
I am awfully sorry you had such an unsatisfying experience with your healthcare provider in getting help for your symptoms of depression. Although depression is indeed one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions experienced by human beings, and is one of the leading causes of disability, the way in which it is treated can vary quite widely, ranging from no treatment, to bad treatment, to combined treatment with therapy and medication.
In general, the public tends not to understand these many different treatment approaches, and must fight their way through a maze to get appropriate help. Based on what you are describing, it sounds like you sought this treatment from your primary care doctor. I say this because a psychiatrist or psychologist will typically spend at least 60 to 90 minutes talking with you about your symptoms and struggles before making a diagnosis or initiating treatment. Yours is not an uncommon experience, unfortunately, but it certainly sounds as if it left you wanting a lot more help and understanding than you received. Primary care doctors do prescribe the majority of the antidepressant drugs in this country, although they have little training or expertise in addressing mental health issues. Since you are dissatisfaied, I suggest you do a little bit more research before proceeding with treatment. The best book available on treating depression is called "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David Burns. It contains questionnaires that will help you assess the severity of your condition, and also provovide you with information about psychotropic medications for treating depression, and a great deal of material on how to help yourself with the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy (this approach has been show by research to be as or more effective than medication in address mild to moderate depression, as well as anxiety and other conditions). I have most of my patients with depression reading this book, and they typically get great benefit from it.
If you feel that additional treatment is needed, beyond the medication, I encourage you to identify a psychotherapist and begin to work in that mode as well. Depression typically involves very negative ways of thinking about ourselves, our lives and our future, and these patterns of thinking are not generally affected by medication. Thus, therapy can be an extremely useful compoent of treatment, with or without medication. You can find a qualified therapist by searching on ABCT.org or psychologytoday.com, or by asking a friend for a referral. Be sure and do a little research on the therapist before setting up an appointment, and/or spend some time interviewing them on the phone and ask how they propose to help you. All therapists are NOT created equally, and there are good ones and not so good ones. I support your being an educated consumer, and playing an active role to ensure you receive high quality treatment. Again, I am sorry for the bad experience you had and encourage you NOT to give up. The right help is out there, and you deserve to access it. Feel free to keep me posted on your progress and/or to ask any additional questions you may have. I wish you the very best of luck.
Richard E. Schultz, Ph.D.
Page last updated Mar 28, 2012