Millions of people who are suffering from depression are currently taking antidepressant medication in an attempt to battle the condition. Oftentimes, doctors are quick to prescribe the medication -- in fact, many times, it's the first thing they do after diagnosing a patient.
One of the keys to understanding and treating depression is understanding what antidepressants really do: they tackle the symptoms of depression, not the roots. In many cases, psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are much more effective in treating depression and preventing relapse than medication is. Antidepressants can be useful, especially in cases where the symptoms are so intense that it prevents the patient from receiving any other kind of treatment. But even in those cases where major depression treatment is needed, antidepressants alone are rarely enough to permanently battle the condition -- they are just an effective way to temporarily relieve the patient's symptoms enough to allow him/her to receive proper treatment.
Antidepressants are used to treat chemical imbalance in the brain, but what many do not realize is that the chemical imbalance is usually a symptom of depression and not the cause. Even when treating the symptoms, antidepressants can be highly unpredictable. In one third of the cases, the medication is effective; in one third, it is partially effective, and in the remaining third, it is not effective at all. In many cases, even when the medication is working, the side effects are so unpleasant that the patient elects to stop using it. Also, antidepressants are not meant to be taken permanently. When a patient stops taking them, he/she is likely to relapse.
Depression is often better combated without any medication at all. Psychological treatment methods for depression -- especially certain kinds of psychotherapy -- have proven highly effective in treating the condition permanently. Good counseling will break down each patient's cycle of depression and help the patient identify unhealthy behaviors or thinking patterns and teach him/her how to change them. If there is a particular event that triggered the depression, counseling can help the patient work through that as well.
Some herbal remedies can be a good complement to therapy by helping to naturally relieve some of the symptoms of depression. St. John's Wort is generally considered to be one of the most potent natural remedies for depression, and is so effective that it outsells prescription medications in some markets. Other popular choices for treating depression naturally include ginko biloba and passion flower.
In all cases, depression should be treated with the help of a professional. However, the more responsibility you take for learning about your condition, the better you'll understand your options, and the more participation you'll have in deciding which treatment is best for you. Remember to allow time for whichever treatment option you choose to take effect, and to speak up if you are uncomfortable. Eventually, you will find your path to better health.