Your GP or psychiatrist may suggest medication if your depression or anxiety is severe, has been going on for a long time, or if other treatments haven’t worked (or maybe aren’t available where you live).
It’s important you know as much as you can about the medications they suggest, so you can decide for yourself if they’re right for you. Don’t be shy about asking lots of questions.
For many people, the right medication can be very helpful. But keep in mind that while the medication can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, they won’t fix whatever might be going on in your life that might have been affecting your mood. Getting professional help for tackling those issues if they don’t resolve, can be very helpful.
If you’re concerned about taking medication, kōrero to someone you trust. A psychologist or counsellor can probably help answer some questions, but whoever prescribes the medication should clearly explain the pros and cons about taking it for depression or anxiety. They should explain:
- What symptoms it should help with
- How long it will take to work
- How long you will need to take it
- Possible side effects
- How to stop taking them safely
Sometimes it takes a while to find the right medication that works for you, and it can take a couple of weeks for some medication to kick in. So give it a bit of time. If the side effects are too much, tell your doctor – there might be something else you can try. Also, you should talk to your doctor or psychiatrist before you stop taking medication, even if you feel like it isn’t doing it for you.
If you’re unsure of anything, or worried, ask questions. Pharmacists can provide good information about various medications.
Talking therapy involves talking to someone about your problems and addressing them in a range of ways. They will spend some time understanding your situation and work with you to decide on the right therapy that works for you.
Talking therapies focus on the ways you currently deal with particular issues in your life, then finding new ways to approach them, such as practical action plans or positive thinking techniques. This means that a programme will often involve doing activities and talking about how you’re doing.
Because therapy is often trying to change longstanding ways of thinking or behaving, you’re likely to need several sessions to give you time to make the changes and observe the results.
While each therapy may begin with a particular focus, they all involve talking about how you feel, how this affects how you behave and how you relate to others. Being as open and honest as you can will help. This isn’t always easy to do, but the more you share with your health professional the better they can help.
There are tohunga or healers in our communities you can go to for rongoā Māori services that offer:
- Mirimiri (massage)
- Karakia and pastoral support
- Rakau rongoā (native flora herbal preparations)
- Whitiwhiti kōrero (cultural support)
Rongoā Māori is traditional Māori healing that includes herbal or medicinal remedies, physical therapies that are similar to massage and manipulation (like mirimiri or romiromi) and spiritual healing.
There are a range of other complementary medicines that have research showing they can help. Talk to your pharmacist or health professional about dosages or side effects:
- St John’s Wort is sometimes used as an alternative to antidepressants. It can be helpful in mild to moderate depression. Because it’s a natural product, its strength varies quite a bit between tablets – but generally 1500-3000 mg of the dried herb is the required dose
- Omega-3 Fish Oil has been shown to be effective in many people with depression. It can be taken at the same time as antidepressants, and may have an additive effect with them. The most effective dose is enough to get 1000 mg of the EPA fraction (see label for amount of EPA per cap – higher strength brands are available and mean taking less capsules to get the effective dose)
- S-Adenosyl Methionine is another supplement that has been shown to be an effective antidepressant AND also to have additive effects when taken with antidepressants. Start with 400 mg daily and increase to 800 mg if required.
Check out this link on Complementary Alternative Medicines for more information about their effectiveness and other options that can help.