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What works for depression?

There is so much information about how to treat depression, how do we know where to turn? The Beyond Blue publication, A guide to what works for depression presents evidence-based reviews of a wide range of treatment options.

Are you looking for up-to-date information about what works for depression? Not sure about the difference between ACT and CBT? Perhaps a friend or family member has recommended a treatment, and you want to know more about it?

Comprehensive yet easy to read, A guide to what works for depression: An evidence-based review includes reviews of over 140 treatments for depression compiled by a team of researchers from the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne.

Included are:

• medical treatments (such as medications or medical procedures)

• psychological therapies (including talking therapies)

• complementary and alternative therapies or lifestyle approaches.

Each treatment is reviewed individually and has a summary of the evidence from scientific studies. Nearly 400 studies were reviewed for the guide.

A stand-alone resource

Treatments receive a thumbs up rating if studies show they are effective. Some treatments have a lot of supporting evidence, and these are rated with three thumbs up. If treatments don’t work, they are given a thumbs down rating. Critically, each review explains just what the treatment is, how it works, and whether there are any known side-effects or risks associated.

Every review ends with a recommendation based on the amount of supporting evidence. A list of references supporting each review is provided if readers wish to learn more.

Encouragingly, more than 50 treatments were found to be effective and there are treatments that work in all three categories – medical, psychological, and complementary or lifestyle approaches. Well-known approaches like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and antidepressant drugs have a lot of strong supporting evidence.

But there are alternatives with good evidence too, such as interpersonal therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Some new entries that appear in this, the third edition of the guide, also show promise, such as curcumin (turmeric) and peer support.

A stand-alone resource, the guide also includes background information on depression, its causes, and who can assist. It outlines the range of practitioners available, the kinds of treatment they provide, and how to seek help.

Anyone can use this evidence-based guide to learn about treatments for themselves, or for a friend or family member. Health practitioners will also find the guide useful when talking with patients about which treatment to choose, particularly for treatments that fall outside of their own personal area of expertise.

If you’d also like reliable information on the effectiveness of a wide variety of treatment approaches for anxiety conditions, find out more about another Beyond Blue publication, A guide to what works for anxiety.

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