Depression is a mood disorder characterised by persistent feelings of low mood, a loss of motivation, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). In some cases, people with depression experience thoughts of self-harm and suicide. In seeking treatment for depression, people often visit their General Practitioner (GP) as a first step. In some cases, a GP may suggest trailing the use of antidepressant medication, usually in conjunction with a referral to visit a Psychologist or other trained mental health professional.
Antidepressant medication is usually prescribed in tablet form. The most common form prescribed today is ‘Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors’ (SSRIs). SSRIs target serotonin, a chemical in the brain that is responsible for stabilising a person’s mood. Serotonin normally circulates in the brain, and then absorbs into the blood stream. SSRIs work by lowering the amount of this feel good chemical that is absorbed into the blood, resulting in higher concentrations remaining in the brain, helping to correct low mood and other symptoms of depression.
Clients commonly ask whether antidepressants alone are likely to ‘fix’ their depression. Research indicates that the best outcomes typically result from a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy (Sona et al., 2006). Antidepressant medication can be helpful for improving mood enough for a person to be able to actively engage with, and benefit from psychotherapy. Psychotherapy for depression assists a person to understand and change the psychological and behavioural factors that contribute to it. This is a collaborative process between you and your therapist in which you will both discuss and agree upon your goals and select an approach that is right for you.
If you are experiencing low mood, emotional numbness, or a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you previously enjoyed, the first step to recovery is to acknowledge that you are feeling this way. Chat to your GP or make an appointment to see one of our experienced Psychologists today.