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Getting Help

Although many people feel that they should be able to "snap out of it" or "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps," when depression becomes a chronic and debilitating disorder, it is time to reach out for help. If you are not sure whether you are clinically depressed, you may want to check the Self-Rating Scale for Depression which appears on the Navigation Bar. After you have answered the questions, ask yourself, "Are my moods or symptoms beginning to interfere with the way that I cope with daily life?" If the answer is "yes," or even "maybe," it is time to get assistance. Ideally, the time to get help is before things really get bad.

There are a number of qualified health care professionals who offer care and treatment for depression. They include:

  • psychiatrists
  • clinical psychologists
  • clinical social workers
  • psychiatric nurse practitioners
  • family practice physicians and internists
  • marriage and family counselors
  • pastoral counselors
  • clergy
  • drug and alcohol counselors

Although only psychiatrists, physicians and nurse practitioners can prescribe medication, members of the other groups offer psychotherapy and often "refer out" for the medication component. Thus, you may end up seeing a medical doctor for your medication and another professional for therapy. The relationship between doctor and patient, or therapist and client, plays a critical role in the healing process.

Your relationship with your mental health care provider will be as important as any treatment you choose. Consequently, it is important that you feel comfortable with him or her. In this respect, it is a good idea to interview several therapists before you make a final decision about the person who will be your guide and advocate. Obtaining the proper referral is an important initial first step in your healing. There are several ways to do this.

  1. Word of mouth. Ask people you know (family, coworkers, friends, a family physician or internist) if they know of anyone who has been helpful to them or others.
  2. State licensing boards. You can call and ask for referrals. Feel free to ask about a practitioner's credentials, how long he or she has been in practice, and his or her experience in treating major depression.

  3. Associations of helping professionals. You can contact these organizations for referrals to mental health professionals in your area.

Here are some phone numbers to start with.

  • American Psychiatric Association: (202) 682-6220
  • American Psychological Association: (202) 336-5800
  • National Association of Social Workers: (800) 638-8799
  • American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: (202) 452-0109
  • American Association of Pastoral Counselors: (703) 385-6967
  • American Society of Clinical Hypnosis: (312) 645-9810

To assist you in getting started with assessing your treatment options, the following pages provide an overview of the standard treatment modalities for clinical depression-psychotherapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). In addition, I have included a number of alternative medical approaches such as diet, exercise, magnetic therapy, and the supplementation with herbs, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

Treatments For Depression and Anxiety

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