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By Dawn Cohen
I am depressed and my doctor says drugs are my only chance
of getting better. My naturopath says herbs can help. Who
should I believe? - Confused
An anti-depressant prescribed after a thorough assessment from
a psychiatrist, combined with psychotherapy, is the way to go
if you are so low, you are unable to go to work, get out of bed in the
morning, or are planning suicide. But if not, the research shows that
psychotherapy can be just as effective as medication for treating mild
to moderate depression. You have the right to choose the treatment you
want, and both options are valid.
You need a government registered psychologist, psychiatrist or psy-
chotherapist to assess your suitability for psychotherapy, and which
type of treatment would work best for you. Your naturopath may be
considering a herb called St John's Wort, dietary changes or daily
exercise, all of which have proven efﬁcacy in treating depression. Al-
cohol, sleeping pills and other drugs can cause depression or make it
worse, as can various physical health problems, including underac-
tive thyroid, but talk to a health practitioner before making any drastic
changes. Anyone on anti-depressants, or any other drug, should not
cut them out without guidance from a health professional about wheth-
er it's advisable, and if so, whether to go cold turkey or to gradually
reduce the dose.
After miraculously surviving a near death experience after a
car accident, last week, my friend says she wants to live life
to the full. Whereas once she was pleasant and polite, now she
swears all the time, makes sexual jokes and can get quite agro, out
of the blue. I feel guilty but I don't want to be with her any more.
What do I do? -- Desperate Dumper
While people's attitude to life may change after an accident, they
don't often alter personality so radically. Did she hit her head
during the accident, become groggy or lose consciousness? If so, a
mild injury to her brain may have loosened her usual restraint. It may
well correct itself with time, but if she does have a brain injury, it needs
urgent medical monitoring. So ﬁnd a diplomatic way to get her to a
doctor. If all is well physically, give her a few months to recover from
the shock of the accident, and she may return to normal. If not, you will
have to talk to her about how you feel, because clearly, the friendship
is in jeopardy.
My lady is bored with me, but thinks we can go on being
friends and ﬂatmates while she looks for greener pastures. I am
furious and devastated, but I love her too much to leave. - Lovelorn
Many lesbians think boredom is a sign to move on rather than
a symptom of an underlying relationship problem that can be
explored and repaired. Sadly they start affairs, leave or provoke their
partners to carry their angry feelings for them, rather than bearing the
discomfort long enough to catch a glimpse of the underlying issues.
It sounds like you may do all the connecting work in the relationship,
while she takes on the task of gazing outward to the world. She is naïve
if she thinks you can go on living together. You can't. Couple therapy
is the best way forward for both of you.
The opinions expressed in this column are the personal views of the writer and are not intended as a substitute for
professional advice. If you need medical or psychological help, see your local GP or psychologist.
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