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Birth of the blues.

Whenever a life-threatening disease strikes, it is imperative we know what to do about it and not have it passed off lightly by family and physicians. Depression, which strikes one out of five of us at some time in our lives, is such a disease.

We all have our good days and bad days, but for some, life's clouds never seem to have a silver lining. Depression can be insidious, with barely perceptible mood swings, or it may produce dramatic personality changes-the so-called manic-depressive syndrome, more correctly termed bipolar depression. Whatever its manifestations, depression requires medical treatment. Not only can it make life miserable for its victims, their families and their friends, but suicide is too often the conclusion.

The condition is far from hopeless. Although its causes are not completely understood, depression does have a biochemical basis. Mood-enhancing drugs have provided relief for many, and one of the newest of these drugs has proven so effective that its sales now nearly equal the total sales of all other antidepressants. Called Prozac, manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis, it is well-tolerated by patients. Psychotherapy has long been the mainstay of depression treatment, and doctors may be tempted to use Prozac in place of long-term psychotherapy because of its safety and its quick results. Unless the underlying emotional factors that trigger depression are dealt with, drug therapy alone may produce limited or only temporary results. The other side of the coin is that traditional views may lead some psychoanalysts to reject drug therapy for the treatment of depression altogether.

There is absolutely no place for the casual use of powerful antidepressants like Prozac in treating mild depression cases, as has been the practice with such severely abused drugs as Valium. A more rational approach would seem to be short-term (12- to 16-week) psychotherapy for mild-to-moderate cases of depression-shown to be quite useful in many cases, with the adjunct use of drugs if results are not forthcoming in that time length. For severe depression, a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressants is the treatment of choice.
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Title Annotation:treatment of mental depression
Publication:Medical Update
Article Type:Product/Service Evaluation
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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