There are two types of treatment available: talking treatments and medication. Both can be accessed through your doctor.
* Counselling helps you to talk about your feelings in private with a sympathetic professional. Your GP may have a counsellor at the surgery.
* Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help to overcome the powerful negative thoughts that are part of depression.
* Interpersonal and dynamic therapies can help if you have difficulties getting on with other people. A relationship counsellor might be helpful if you're having difficulties with your partner.
* If you have a disability or are caring for a relative, a self-help group may give you support.
Antidepressants can be effective if depression is severe or goes on for a long time. They may help feelings of anxiety and help you to deal with problems effectively again.
The effects of antidepressants won’t usually be felt straight away - people often don't notice any improvement in their mood for two or three weeks. As well as tablets, an alternative remedy called St John's Wort is available from chemists. There is evidence that it’s effective in mild to moderate depression. It seems to work in much the same way as some antidepressants, but some people find that it has fewer side effects. You should discuss taking it with your doctor, particularly if you‘re taking other medication.
Like all medicines, antidepressants have some side effects, though these are usually mild and tend to wear off as the treatment goes on. The newer antidepressants (called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) may cause nausea and anxiety for a short while. The older antidepressants can cause dry mouth and constipation. Unless the side effects are very bad, your doctor will usually advise you to continue with the tablets.
Four out of five people with depression will get better without help. The shorter the time you have been depressed, the better the chance that it will lift on its own. However, even with treatment, one in five people will still be depressed two years later.