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There are two main kinds of help for depression, medication and counseling/therapy. And one of the biggest myths about medication is that once you start taking antidepressants you will have to keep taking them for the rest of your life. And while some people do remain on them for a long while, doctors are keen to ensure that you are not kept on them forever unless it is necessary.
After a while of you being on your medication, if you seem to be making progress then they will start to consider whether or not your dosage can be gradually lowered. They will carefully monitor this and it will be done in stages because going cold turkey can have serious consequences.
Counseling or therapy is often used in conjunction with medication. The pills allow you to take full advantage of the counseling.
Whether you are sent to a counselor or a therapist there are a few things you need to know:
The doctor has NOT sent you to a professional because they think you are crazy, they have sent you because they know you need someone to talk to that understands what is going on in your mind right now.
Everything said to your counselor or therapist is treated with total confidentiality unless they think you are a threat to yourself or others.
You will only be seeing a therapist temporarily, you won't have to be going forever.
You won't be asked to lie down on a big leather couch.
You won't be asked your innermost secrets on your first session, it takes time to build up a relationship with your counselor or therapist, they are fully aware that a bond has to be formed before you will begin to trust them. This is why most counselors will give you the option of requesting someone else if you are not comfortable with your present counselor.
You also have the right to see a counselor or therapist that is the same gender as you, I saw a male therapist though and he was fantastic, so keep an open mind, but if you are uncomfortable with seeing a person of a different gender, tell your doctor and they will arrange someone else for you.
Your doctor may decide to start your treatment by giving you medication.
When you start to take the pills you may begin to feel impatient because you want the pills to make you feel better immediately, but unfortunately they don't work like that. They can take up to eight weeks to have any significant effect on the way you are feeling. But you must persevere with them, don't give up just because you don't feel back to your old self after a week. These pills need time to work, the feelings you have didn't turn up overnight and they won't go away overnight either.
After a few weeks, you should gradually notice a positive change in your mood, but if after three months you still feel no different, talk to your doctor again. They may decide to increase the dosage or they may be able to find another type of medication that will work better for you.
I am not going to lie to you, many of these medications have side effects that can put people off them but don't let the side effects beat you because they are only temporary, and it's definitely worth putting up with them in the long run.
If you find the pills are disagreeing with you badly then consult your doctor again, different pills work for different people. It's a case of trial and error to find out which ones will work best for you.
During this time when the pills have not quite taken effect you may begin to feel vulnerable and scared. This is quite natural, but remember there is nothing to be scared of, what you have done is a very brave and incredibly positive thing. And even in your darkest hour you need to remember that despite what you may think at the time, you do want to survive, you do want to live. You sought help and this means that you want to find a way out.
It's well documented that during the first few weeks of taking antidepressants many people will experience dramatic mood swings, feelings of anxiousness and feelings of deep depression. Do not ignore these feelings talk to someone about them, there is always someone to help whether it is a friend, a family member or a help line there is always someone to talk to.
Your doctor may decide that the best course of action is for you to see a counselor or therapist. Many people are reluctant to take counseling or therapy because they think it's only for "crazy" people. But talking to someone face to face that will not judge you and knows how to help you can be so liberating.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as your doctor referring you and you getting an appointment within the same week, it doesn't work like that. Since resources are so limited, many places have waiting lists of up to two years! But your doctor will know where to send you to get you an appointment as soon as possible.
If you don't know what to expect from therapy or counseling then don't worry, these people are there to help you, many people think that therapists are judging them on every little thing they do, but this is not true, they are simply trying to figure out the best way to help you solve your problems. And don't worry about being made to lie on a leather couch, you can sit down, stand up or walk around the room, it is entirely up to you.
Your counselor or therapist can not force you to talk about things. If they tried it would be very counter productive, but it really is best to try and talk things through with them. You may find it hard at first and any therapist will know that you may not be up to baring your soul in the first few sessions. But you should gradually find yourself building up a relationship of mutual trust with them which will make you feel more comfortable.
As I have said before, having someone to talk to that you know will not judge you can be incredibly helpful for anyone suffering with depression, so if your doctor suggests it, give it a try, you have nothing to lose.
If your doctor has recommended that you see a counselor and take medication, don't be alarmed, this is a good thing, the pills can help you use the therapy more effectively.