The three questions that determine what treatment you should choose for depression.

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In Australia, in any one year, almost one million of us will experience depression.

It’s an overwhelming statistic, and one that comprises a huge number of individuals who either won’t pursue treatment, or won’t find it effective. There remains a complex stigma around help-seeking, which can impact a person’s decision to see a psychologist or try medication. For some, needing to talk about their problems with a therapist is a sign of weakness, while for others, the idea of taking antidepressant medications is mixed in with misinformed opinions about ‘losing yourself’ and masking your issues, rather than getting to the root of them.

Ultimately, what works for one person is different to what works for another, and figuring out the most effective approach for you can take time, and significant trial and error.

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But now, a recent study has claimed that the answers to three simple questions can tell you what treatment you should pursue for your depression.

The three questions are:

  • Age
  • Expectations of relationship with the therapist
  • Level of vindictiveness towards others

According to one of the authors of the study, Professor Sigal Zilcha-Mano, “asking these three questions will save a lot of time in identifying the most appropriate treatment for the patient.”

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“The answers will help solve a dilemma that many patients face in choosing the best type of treatment.”

So how, exactly, do these questions help?

The findings showed that the more a person expects a positive relationship with their therapist, the greater their chance of completing psychotherapy treatment, and the lower their chance of sticking with antidepressant medications.

When it came to age, the researchers found that those over the age of 45 are more likely to complete pharmaceutical treatments, whereas patients younger than 45 have a better chance of completing psychotherapy.

Finally, it was found that people who show a high level of vindictiveness in their close relationships are more likely to stop medication.

"The answers will help solve a dilemma that many patients face in choosing the best type of treatment." Image via iStock.

Interestingly, there were a number of other characteristics that didn't have any impact when it came to the effectiveness of different types of treatments. Gender and education weren't important, and neither was a person's expectations for the success of treatment.

So if you have depression, and are struggling to decide on the most effective course of action for you, take these questions into account.

How old are you? Do you have positive expectations of a relationship with a therapist? Do you have high levels of vindictiveness in your interpersonal relationships?

By considering these questions, hopefully you can choose the treatment which will have the greatest benefit for you in the long run.

If you’re suffering from depression or anxiety and need help, or just someone to chat to, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636. 

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